By Sue Moore
Leon Hayward has established an “Inspiration” award in memory of his late wife, Tina, to be given out at the Hearty Hustle.
Tina, who died in 2010, always said, “It’s never too late for running success,” as she competed in marathons, half K’s and even some smaller events such as the Hearty Hustle.
The Inspiration award will go to both a male and female first place runner in the Master’s category on Saturday, May 10, at the High School Athletic Stadium. This choice was made in Tina’s honor because she won first place in the Boston Marathon in 1984 at the age of 43. It was the first time the Boston race had established a Masters award, and she won it in a time of 3:02:35.
According to her husband, Tina’s inspiration for running likely came from being so competitive. In an interview for The Michigan Runner magazine in the 1980s, she described what she really liked about running.
“It feels so good when you stop,” she said. “It makes you feel good that you’ve disciplined yourself to do it.”
And that’s what she did almost every day once she took up running when she was about 37 and then competitive running at 39. In the same article, she was quoted as saying, “I hope that I am friendly enough, helpful enough, humble enough, good sport enough so that when someone younger or better starts beating me in the masters division, I’ll still be well thought of and still have all my friends.”
That indeed, was her inspiration, Leon said.
She was the swiftest female Masters runner in Michigan in the 1980s when she was in her forties.
Of her motivation, she was quoted as saying, “Something just pushes me out the door every day, no matter what the weather or how busy or inconvenient it is. I am really very upset if I don’t get my running in unless I planned a day off as before a race or marathon.”
There is a family interest in running with Tina’s mother, Maxine Skidmore, who started entering races in her fifties, while working fulltime at Simpson Paper Company.
Her brother, Eric Skidmore, is an accomplished runner in Alaska, with championship times in marathons to his credit. Leon and their daughter Kim are both runners, but perhaps not quite as seriously, Leon said.
Sadly, Tina came down with a virus that attacked her heart which was half destroyed when it was discovered.
“She just ignored it, probably because she was in such great physical shape,” Leon said. “This award will help keep her accomplishments alive.”
Other awards to be given out at the Hearty Hustle include the Hollenbeck Volunteer Award in the name of Gary Hollenbeck who was instrumental in creating the Hearty Hustle, but is now deceased. It has been given since 1995, each year naming one of the many of the loyal volunteers who help with the race.
The Carl Bennett Photo Moment award was created in his honor in 2007 when he passed away. Bennett loved photographing anything going on in Vicksburg and was a staff photographer for the Kalamazoo Gazette. His widow, Kaye Bennett, selects someone from the day of the race who has an outstanding story to tell about participating in the Hearty Hustle. In 2013, it went to Genevieve Skrzypek as she finished the race at the age of 88.