RunVermont honors outstanding individuals for their achievements and contributions to running in Vermont with an annual Hall of Fame award. The award is presented to an individual who is; a true ambassador of running by promoting running as a lifelong activity wherever he/she goes, has made significant contributions to the sport through running, volunteerism, sponsorship or organization, in the judgment of the Selection Committee, typifies the true spirit of RunVermont by embracing and perpetuating athletic spirit in the Vermont community.
We received six applications this year; we typically only nominate one person per year into the Hall of Fame, so it was incredibly difficult for the Selection Committee to even narrow it down. We had AMAZING people nominated and after much debate we did finally agree on one recipient. But we’re not going to tell you who it is. Not yet anyway.
The nominees are so great we feel that each person deserves recognition.
Meet our last Hall of Fame nominee, Tim O’Reilly, nominated by his son Joe, a good portion of the O’Reilly clan (including his 3 year old granddaughter), several of his running buddies, at least two former co-workers and all 75+ of his KBVCM bag stuffing volunteers and … and… and…
I write this letter in support of the nomination of my father, Tim O’Reilly, into RunVermont’s Hall of Fame. Dad has been a steadfast and enthusiastic participant and leader in Burlington’s running community for twenty-four years. My father is not a world-class athlete or renown events coordinator. He is just a regular guy, with regular finishing times who loves to run. His love of running is contagious and has inspired many. Whether it is on the course or behind the scenes, my Dad is a true ambassador to the Vermont running community.
In 1989, Dad stood on the sidelines at Oakledge Park, watching the marathoners push through mile 13. Seemingly inspired and motivated, he started running the very next day. At the break of dawn, he walked over to neighboring Rice High School’s track. He ran one-quarter mile and walked home. Every morning that week, he ran that same one-quarter mile. The next week, he ran a half-mile every morning. The following week, he ran three-quarters of a mile every morning. A few months later, he ran his first 5k. The following year, he established a relay team with his colleagues for the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon-and has been running with the same team since!
His hobby became a family leisure activity. We were soon in a routine of the family 5ks on Saturday mornings. We never did extraordinarily well, but that never seemed to matter. What mattered to my Dad was that we finished. This “A-for-effort” approach kept us running through childhood and beyond. My parents have completed three marathons together. Inspired by our parents, my brother and I finished our own marathons-both in Burlington.
In recent years, Dad has been integral in enhancing the quality of the runner’s race bag. He advocated for Vermont made products and was instrumental in moving from plastic bags to canvas totes. These changes reflected a public commitment to environmental sustainability, for which Vermont is well known. It also put smiles on the faces of many marathoners-there is nothing like a good race bag to make you feel welcomed and supported to tackle 26.2 miles!
I remember waiting at the start line of my own marathon. Dad was there with me, taking a photo before hurrying off to his own relay exchange point. His wise words at that moment still ring true-”just put one foot in front of the other.” His message was my mantra, as I struggled through mile 26. This simple message may explain the inertia between that first quarter mile lap and where he is today, 24 years later-an ambassador to the Vermont running community.
Over the years, Tim has had an impact on the running careers of so many people and personally was my Chief supporter and mentor as I embarked on my mission to better myself physically. Tim was inspirational and encouraging from the beginning, loaning me a pair of his NYC marathon shoes to train in so I would have the correct footwear to prevent injuries and no excuse to stop because I couldn’t afford the equipment. Together we have celebrated my successes both big and small, including the first time I made it running without stopping from the corner of Kimball Ave to the corner of Kennedy Drive and Hinesburg Road. That half mile was not very far in most runner’s eyes but it was huge for me. Tim knew that and helped me see that if I could make it that far I could make it further. After my first 10k I arrived at work to find a clipping from the Burlington Free Press on my desk showing I had won my age category. It didn’t matter that I was the only one in the category, Tim celebrated that success with me anyway. After my first full KBVCM, I returned to the office the following long weekend to find a mounted 15th Anniversary KBVCM poster in my chair that still hangs in my office today – inspiring me each time I look up – encouraging me to keep going.
- Linda Maguire
When I joined the O’Reilly family, I knew that Tim was a runner, but I’ll never forget the first time I set foot into the O’Reilly Basement. I had never considered using race bibs as wallpaper, but then, I’d never earned more than 2. The O’Reilly’s, however, had plenty! Marathons, 5Ks, 10Ks, biathlons- they were all there and the whole family had earned them. I had no idea why anybody would want to run that much. 10 years later, my husband (Tim’s son) and I have started our own wall of bibs. Last year, Tim held his 3 year old granddaughter’s hand as she earned her very first bib at First Run. He was so proud! These trophies represent more than their respective events; they represent a journey taken and challenges overcome. For many of us, Tim has led us on our journeys. He has captained his teammates, friends, family and volunteers in their quests to become better runners through unyielding support, advice, and encouragement. Tim taught me that races are as much about the spirit of competition as the competition itself.
It was several years ago when I first joined Tim’s team of race packet stuffers. Even then, I was surprised at how he could turn a repetitive, thankless task into an efficient and enjoyable event. I now look forward to volunteering for Tim as much as I do the race itself. Even now, as he is living out of state, he is still able to take charge of his tasks and continue to improve upon his methods. I don’t believe I have met anybody who has so passionately given back to the running community everything that it has given to him.
Running is a challenge; it takes discipline and an inner strength that, until I met Tim, I didn’t know I possessed. As I prepare to finally train for my own first marathon, I have reflected on my running accomplishments knowing that without Tim’s leadership and support, I would not have taken those first, most challenging, steps. I know that when I cross that finish line, Tim will be there continuing his support. (And if I fall short, he’ll be there too.) Thank you for considering Tim for the Hall of Fame. I am proud to be in the family of such a valuable member of the running community.