Introducing Patti

The following is an introduction of Patti for her appearance on April 14, 2003 before the Corp of Cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy. It was written and given by former Executive Officer of the Corp, Clay Cromer.

"Good evening ADM and Mrs. Olsen, CAPT and Mrs. Thomas, CAPT and Mrs. Heyl…Dean and Mrs. Haas, faculty and staff, OCS and the distinguished Corps of Cadets.

The runner-athlete who will stand before us tonight is one of the all time greatest female distance runners. She has come here tonight to share her stories of sweetest victory and inspire us with her endurance that has carried her through not only grueling races on the road, but also in her life.

Patti's background was no jog in the park. She grew up in Quincy, a small community just south of Boston and she worked two jobs to help support eight younger siblings. She did not have the means to go to college, but she made a huge change in her life direction when she took up running at age 23. After winning the Rhode Island Ocean State Marathon, Patti enjoyed the attention and continued to run, hardly realizing that she was a natural.

Patti became one of the first women to begin 150-mile weeks of running as part of her training regimen. She was known among her contemporaries as a ferocious lion who put everything into her running. The pressure to perform was high, and the expectations from her former coach and ex-husband to become thinner and thinner eventually led to the eating disorder bulimia.

Patti simply has a phenomenal record. Just last December, she traveled to Honolulu to be inducted into the Honolulu Marathon Hall of fame. She won the Honolulu Marathon 4 years in a row from 1978 to 1981, setting a course record each time she ran. During her career, Patti held every American distance record from the 5 mile to the marathon, and the world records in the ˝ marathon and 30k. From April of 1980 to April of 1981, she ran 48 distance races, winning 44 of them. This included everything from the indoor mile (4:51) to the marathon (2:27). Her time of 2:27.51 in the Boston marathon broke her own American record in 1981. (That works out to about 5 minutes and 32 seconds per mile for 26.2 miles). Patti took 2nd place in the Boston Marathon 3 years in a row, and she also was the first American woman to run the marathon in under 2 ˝ hours! Just last month, Patti lost her world record in the 30k that she held for over 20 years. Patti was ranked as the #1 female distance runner in the world in 1980 and 1981.

Patti now resides in New London, CT with the love of her life, Danny Dillon and her two children, Aaron, 9 and Raven, 6. She is a home-schooling mother and has started a running club called the Connecticut Home-school Harriers, including 40 kids from ages 5 to 15. She gives thanks and credit to God for everything and especially her family. The distance that she has come from eating disorders and a former life of depression are farther away from her now than every mile combined that she has run in her life. Her endurance sets and example for us all, and she runs the race marked out for her now with perseverance.

Please join me now in welcoming our honored speaker for tonight, Patti Dillon."