Karen Steen ran in the USA Olympic Marathon Trials, won several Capital City Marathons, and won Master's National Championships.
Karen Steen ran in high school and college. Linda Huyck never ran a step for her college team. Susan Havens took up running later in life and became one of the top master’s runners in the United States.
All three have one thing in common—they are among a handful of female runners from Thurston County to ever qualify for and run in qualified for and run in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. I enjoyed serving as their coach during their Olympic Trials qualifying runs and as master’s runners.
Karen Steen (Bell was Karen’s maiden name) was a high school and college star hurdler. She had a fantastic range. After coaching her to the U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon, we worked on a plan for Karen to go after a national master's record in the 400-meter hurdles.
With incredible determination, Karen got that national 400-meter hurdle record for her age group on a sprained ankle, no less! She was a fantastic runner who won our local marathon (the Capital City Marathon) several times and became the best in the USA for her age in the steeplechase.
I will never forget Karen for her incredible range of events and her extraordinary focused determination. Karen qualified for the USA Olympic trials while working full time and raising a family. This was no easy task.
Karen's life story is a testament to what hard work and determination can do in life. She works hard at everything she does day in and day out.
I served as Linda's coach during her Olympic Trials qualifying run, the U.S. Olympic Trials, and her three Capital City titles. Each of these races showcased Linda's talent, perseverance, and overcoming the odds differently. However, the common thread in these races was Linda's incredible tenacity and her no-quit mentality. When the stakes are high, Linda comes through with flying colors.
One of the many anmazing things about Linda is that she never ran in college. She picked up running again after she graduated from college. Linda was away from the sport for six years. Some college coaches missed out on an incredible coaching opportunity!
Linda became one of the best master's runners in America. She has inspired many other runners along her journey as well.
What I appreciate most about Linda is her consistent upbeat, positive attitude.
If you want to read more about Linda's story, you can check out this article written about her in Runner's World Magazine.
One of the other athletes I coached at the U.S. Olympic Trials, Susan Havens, did not start running until later in life. She never ran in high school, college, or as a young adult. However, Susan ran in the Olympic Trials at 40 years of age.
Susan also won the Capital City marathon and was ranked high in the world as a Master's runner. The point of bringing this up is to show that there is always a second chance to go after big goals. Susan had a great gift, yet she never knew she had national class talent as a runner until she started training for marathons as an adult.
It was great day when Susan qualified for the Olympic Trials. Susan worked as hard as anyone I’ve coached in my lifetime. She was very dedicated to running to her God-given potential later in life. Susan also inspired others to give running a try because of her example.
I remember most about Susan's quiet, soft-spoken humble spirit and extreme consistency in her training. Susan also qualified for the USA Marathon Olympic trials while working and raising a family. Amazing is often an overused word. However, Susan is amazing on so many different levels.
There you have it. These three very different yet incredible Thurston runners share a common legacy—all qualified for U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Each took a different road to success and inspired others along their journey.
Linda is pictured with Olympic Marathon Gold Medal winner Joan Benoit-Samuelson after winning the Capital City Marathon outright as a Master's runner for the third time. Linda Qualified for and ran in the USA Olympic Marathon Trials.
Susan Havens was amazing, running national class times at age 40. She started running late in life. Susan qualified for the USA Marathon Olympic Trials. She became one of the best Master's Runners around, winning the Houston Marathon in the Master's Division and becoming world ranked in the marathon as a Master's athlete. Susan is seen here after her career with her grandchild.