Allan Steinfeld Remembered


I asked Jeff Benjamin to ask some of the friends of Allan Steinfeld to honor our late, great friend. Allan Steinfeld, with his thoughtfulness and humor filled way, changed our sport for better.

Allan Steinfeld.jpgAllan Steinfeld, photo courtesy of NYRR

I edit this with a smile, and tears, as the moving thoughts of Allan's friends (and many more on social media) continue to go through my mind.

Here is Jeff Benjamin's excellent remembrance of our friend, the late and still great, Allan Steinfeld.

Allan Steinfeld Remembered

Low-Key and Dignified - That is how Allan Steinfeld lived his life, and tragically that is how he passed away earlier this week at the age of 70., surrounded by close friends and family.
Steinfeld, a NYC high school and college track runner, would go on to join Fred Lebow's New York Road Runners Club in its infancy, and would help revolutionize the organizational and logistical methods for road racing and marathoning as Lebow's co-partner in a relationship that lasted almost a quarter of a century. After Lebow's passing in 1994, Steinfeld would assume the mantle of leadership at the NYRRC leading the club and it's marathon into the 21st century.
Yet probably the greatest quality Allan Steinfeld was his knack for making friends in the Sport, friendships which would last his entire life, and would leave a lasting powerful and positive impact on all who knew him. His passion and devotion to the Sport was evident on all levels, whether he was dealing with the grass-roots NYC Coach or the greatest distance runners on Earth. Once Allan made you his friend, it was truly a life-long happy proposition.
Jeff Benjamin, runner, coach, teacher, journalist, senior writer, American Athletics, American Track & Field and RunBlogRun
Here are some tributes in honor of Allan Steinfeld below--
"I first met Allan Steinfeld back in 1980 prior to the NYC Marathon. Allan was Fred Lebow's right hand man and at the time handled a lot of the logistics for the Marathon including interacting with the elite athletes and taking care of all their arrangements. Allan, like Fred, believed in establishing a relationship with the athletes that transcended just running. They both made you feel like you were a close friend and cared about your whole life. Having come from a track background where I hardly ever met a meet director, it was a very nice and appreciated change. After Fred passed away, Allan continued Fred's legacy and the NYC Marathon continued to foster great relationships with marathoners and the running community as a whole. We will all miss Alan and his positive nature greatly."
- Alberto Salazar-3-time NYC Marathon Champion, Former World Marathon Record Holder (2:08:13-1981 NYC Marathon), currently Coach of the NIKE Oregon Project.
"Allan devoted his life to the sport as a grassroots high school coach up to the prestigious position of Director of NYC Marathon. Allan was always considered "a good guy" who was willing to remain in the background when Fred Lebow took the event and the NYRR to its great heights, but was really the braintrust behind the scenes. Allan brought a great expertise in track & field which encouraged the NYRR to sponsor some of the best known international events throughout the 1990's. Allan was always a great supporter of the Armory and its vast high school and youth outreach and always supported my own efforts at the NYRR to gain its backing which has meant so much to our organization.

Lastly, he was devastated at the death of Fred but gathered himself up and led the NYRR to a strong position of continued growth preparing it for the fantastic success it now enjoys.

Allan always maintained his friendships and remained in contact in big and small ways that meant so much to so many of us. He was a fine gentleman and will always be remembered for what he accomplished."

-Dr. Norb Sander- 1974 NYC Marathon Champ and President of the Armory Foundation
"Allan was always the effective quiet man behind the scenes during Fred's colorful visionary period leading the Road Runners. They were partners and Fred relied on and trusted him completely. Yet when Fred became very sick, some wondered whether he was too much of " a number two man" to take over the organization. A few weeks before Fred died, Mayor Rudy Giuliani held a reception at Gracie Mansion to honor the marathon's 25th running. That evening the mayor announced that 89th St. between Fifth and Madison, the block where the New York Road Runners was then housed would be named "Fred Lebow Place." Allan who had always avoided the limelight spoke with conviction and confidence. When I visited Fred the next night, I told him Allan had done extremely well. Fred pulled me close to him and whispered "Truman" referring to Harry Truman's emergence from the long shadow of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In hindsight it seems to be a prescient and accurate description."
-George Hirsch, Former Publisher of "The Runner" and Runners World Magazine - Currently Chairman of the NYRR

"I met Allan Steinfeld when I started running and volunteering in 1979. He introduced me to the New York Road Runners Club(the "Club" was dropped years later) finish line and scoring system which I later learned he had basically developed. This system was really the one that allowed accurate timing and scoring of road races with hundreds and thousands of participants. I would help him and the NYRRC team set up for a race, then run, then hop into the scoring trailer and start scoring - often I worked on the women's awards results. Allan encouraged me as a runner, brought me along to workouts at Manhattan College with Warren Street, then coached by Tracy Sundlun. Over the years, Allan and Alice became good friends. In addition to working together at the NYRR races, we sometimes went to races in Flushing Meadows Park to run;and we generally went to the same Thanksgiving Dinners and Passover Seders. In later years, I hosted Thanksgiving Dinner and in 2016 I hosted the Seder. Allan had led the Seder in past years and this year, while unable to lead, he was an active participant as we went around the table with each person reading a paragraph of the Haggadah. Allan was also active in USA Track and Field (then TAC) as an administrator and a competition official and this inspired me to do the same. In 2015, USATF honored Allan with the USATF Robert Giegengack Award in 2015 for outstanding volunteerism during the their Annual Meeting in Houston; this is one of their top awards. As Allan wasn't able to attend, I had the honor of accepting the award on his behalf."

-Phil Greenwald- Longtime NYRR Stalwart and currently VP of Finance for USATF-New Jersey

"I'm glad I got to know Allan Steinfeld in the Golden Era of American Marathoning particularly as Allan was the organizational geinus who in the inaugural 5-Borough NYC Marathon in 1976 made sure the Marathon would run smoothly. He succeeded and all race organizers and the resulting success of those days race led to the New Era of Big City Marathoning across the globe. Fred Lebow basked in the limelight that flowed in the years that followed and his role at building the NYRR and the NYC Marathon must not be denied. But when you went into the back rooms of the NYRR, there was the soft spoken goateed former high school science teacher Alan Steinfeld working hard on the details of the big race. He looked sort of thin to be a strong sprinter in his youth but when you spoke with Alan you knew from the tone of his voice he knew what he was doing and where he wanted to go.
About 4 years ago my brother Charlie and I were at one of America's finest road races, the Bix 7 mile in Davenport Iowa. Charlie and I run the Bix every July and i love the race's atmosphere and the friendly attitudes of the people of this huge Midwestern race. The longtime race director Ed Froelich had been to the NY City Marathon and had invited Fred Lebow to visit the Bix as a guest one time. Sadly Fred passed away and to represent the NYC Marathon Ed Froelich invited Allan to the Bix in his stead and Allan continued to visit for a number of years. The last time he came he went fishing with me and Charlie in a small farmers pond in the midst of a giant cornfield. Allan was the only one who caught a fish....Peace Allan!
Bill Rodgers- 4-Time NYC and Boston Marathon Champion
From Mary Wittenberg's Instagram-Used with permission.
Mary Wittenberg- Former President & CEO of NYRR - currently Global CEO Virgin Sport

"Allan and Fred were amazing and total pioneers. It is with sadness and with loss to me on hearing of the passing of my wonderful friend Allan Steinfield.

I met Allan with Fred Lebow in 1975 @ the Milrose Games. I liked them both immediately -they were enthusiastic "running" organizers and passionate Road Running pioneers. Then in 1980 I reconnected with them when I started to run in the New York Road Runners Club events. The New Years Mid Night Run was a big one and Allan was at his best with his precise instructions for protocol and timing. Over the years Allan set the standard for Races World Wide - he truly was a professional.

There were hundreds of Running and Race events he consulted on and with absolute attention to detail, I witnessed this during the development and management of the City of Los Angeles Marathon. I'm at a loss for sure, always loved Allan

RIP Allan, a great friend."

-Rod Dixon 1983 NYC Marathon Champion currently Leader of the KIDS Marathon Program -Also Olympic Coach and Advisor to the USA City Games

"I will miss Allan's calm, quiet, yet hard working demeanor that made road running in the 70-80s so successful! Allan was the "man behind the curtain" as the NYC Marathon Oz! A great friend and I could always trust his opinion! I will miss him!"

Tom Fleming-2-time NYC Marathon Champion - Currently high School XC/T&F Coach at Montclair Kimberley Academy

"Hearing that Allan Steinfeld died earlier this week gave me pause to think back to my earliest days and dealings with the NYRRC. Fred Lebow and Allan Steinfeld were the "ying and yang" of the NYRRC and every major event that the club attempted. Fred was the charismatic very public "front man" that dealt with the sponsors, media, and the general public, Meanwhile, Allan was the quiet genius behind the scenes who dealt with all things technical... from timing systems, finish line design, start line design, runner safety on course, and also course measurement.... and, most certainly all the many NYRRC volunteers necessary to make the event happen. Both were smart and on the cutting edge of our sport back in the late 70's and early 80's when the marathon and a couple other of their events were really hitting their stride. The fact that they were perfecting their craft in NYC ...on one of the "biggest stages" in the world... put them on the front line of our sport... helping set trends in event management that many others followed. Allan Steinfeld was especially prominent nationally and internationally in helping to create course measurement standardization and developing new and better finish line design with result tabulation. Finally, Allan was especially valuable in helping the NYRRC to manage through the transition that the NYRRC was forced to make after Fred Lebow died. From my humble perspective at a distance, he helped the club and the marathon maintain its identity and tradition while the NYRRC were training other people to assume the management roles and void that Fred's death left them in. The NYRRC had many important people that helped make the club and the marathon internationally famous... but Fred and Allan were two of the biggest and most public faces at that time. They have both left an indelible mark on our sport. It is also worth noting that Allan's wife also died in the last year and she and Allan made a tremendous working/management team at the races for the NYRRC."

-Craig Virgin - 3 time Olympian and 2-time World XC Champion

"It's with sadness that I say good bye to Allen Steinfield. I first met Allen at the Perrier 10k in Central Park in the spring of 1981. He and Fred where just starting there journey together.

Allen was a quiet guy behind everything that was great happening in New York. He was Fred's go to guy. He was the man that made it happen on race day.

RIP friend. You have left your mark on NYC and it will live on for ever.

-Geoff Smith-2-time Boston Marathon Champion and many-time winner of NYRRC Central Park race's during the 1980's

From Kathrine Switzer's Facebook page - used with permission

"So sad. A truly wonderful person. Such a true New Yorker in all that is positive: the archetypal New York accent, a personality that let you know where he was "from" combined with a passion for running in a geographical area where, in 1975 one would not have expected it. Yet it all makes sense in the history of the evolution of road racing when you take a moment to ponder. His passion was primary. I truly admire and will remember him for the politician he was not. He truly loved his sport. He was so wonderfully understated and yet so much a part of it all."
Frank Shorter-1972 Olympic Gold Medalist in the Marathon.
"I'm certainly not a champion nor have I ever been anywhere near the leaders but I love the NYC Marathon and I have a high regard for Allan.
Allan was deeply committed to running and did much to expand running programs and add the technology that could record and report race results. Runners of all ages and from everywhere on the planet had a good friend in Allan Steinfeld.
This year as I run the TCS NYC Marathon I'll be thinking of Allan."

Mike Rauh-
38-time finisher of the TCS NYC Marathon- Currently Press Steward at the Armory.
Allan will be sorely missed.

"Perhaps the only good things that came with Allan Steinfeld's passing January 24 at far-too-young-an age, was that he could once again be with his beloved wife and teammate, Alice; his years of declining health and increasing physical pain were finally at a merciful end; and that he at last received all the public acclaim that he so richly deserved, but that somehow had skipped over him in life. Not that I think he cared, but he deserved it ... and in spades. He didn't care because his reward was in the doing, not in the hype ... in the results, not the press clippings. Not that he thought that hype and press weren't important or bad - he just didn't need it and it just wasn't him ... and he always had others around better equipped to handle that part of the job. And in this world that puts so much emphasis on hype and media, someone like Allan can easily get lost; and that is a terrible shame, because it is people like Allan (and Alice) that should be held up as role-models for our children and future generations - people who did real things and made tangible contributions, not those with the most press releases.

Allan loved every aspect of our sport and was a passionate participant in and supporter of all things running as well as track and field and race walking. Most people don't know that the marathon was not Allan's distance. He was a sprinter / quarter-miler in high school, and he used to come to indoor practice with the Warren Street Social & Athletic Club at Manhattan College ... and he had beautiful running form. I get most of the credit for bringing the IAAF World Race Walking Cup to New York in 1987, the first time it was ever held outside of Europe and the first time that it was open to all countries. But it was Allan who made my vision come to life and who did the lion's share of the work to make it the watershed event for the sport that it was. I get most of the credit for what the Metropolitan Athletics Congress did in New York from 1981 to 1997, but Allan was my Vice-President throughout my tenor.
Again, Tim Murphy and I and others created the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego 20 years ago, which has grown into the largest running series in the world; but it was Allan who we brought in to tell us how to do it, and then counseled us as we worked to fix all the mistakes we made in the first year. And I am not alone. All over the world you will find similar stories of Allan's selfless, quiet, invaluable help and support. I don't know if he ever said "no" to a request ... and if he did, I know he said it politely.
But Allan's quiet, self-effacing, behind-the-scenes demeanor almost cost him ... AND the sport. When Fred Lebow, President of the New York Road Runners Club and the Race Director of the New York City Marathon died, there were a number who questioned whether Allan should have been his successor, despite his being Fred's choice and the Technical Director for the Marathon and the clear #2 at the Club. I remember as if it was yesterday the phone calls I got lobbying for others -- one in particular. I can also remember my response. "Allan has earned the opportunity. He will be different, but he will be great." And oh boy, was I right! He was even greater than I imagined! Rest In Peace, my teammate, my role-model, my friend ..."

Tracy Sundlun
Co-Founder, Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series
President & Executive Director, Metropolitan Athletics Congress, 1982-1997

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