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 ladies have one thing in common—they are among a handful of female runners in Thurston County history to run in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. I had the pleasure of serving as their coach during their Olympic Trials qualifying runs.
Karen Steen (Bell was Karen’s maiden name) was a star hurdler in high school and college. She had amazing range. After coaching Karen to the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, we worked on a plan for her 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!
Karen was an amazing runner who won our local marathon (the Capital City Marathon) several times and also became the best in the nation for her age in the steeplechase.
I will always remember Karen for her incredible range of events and her amazing focused determination.
I served as Linda's coach during her Olympic Trials qualifying run, the U.S. Olympic Trials, and her Capital City Marathon titles. Each of these races showcased Linda's talent, perseverance, and overcoming the odds in different ways. However, the common thread in all of 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 amazing 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 has gone on to become 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 to the U.S. Olympic Trials, Susan Havens, did not start running until later in life. She never ran in high school, college or even as a young adult. However, Susan ended up running 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. She also represented the United States at an international race in Japan.
Susan was amazing and gifted yet she never knew she had national
class talent as a runner. It was a great day when she qualified for the Olympic
Trials. Susan worked as hard as anyone I’ve coached in my lifetime. She was
amazing and dedicated to running to her God given potential later in life.
What I remember most about Susan is her quiet humble
spirit, and extreme consistency in her training. Susan showed us that is almost never too late to go after big goals in life.
There you have it. Three very different yet incredible Thurston runners who share a common legacy—all qualified for U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Each took a different road to success and inspired others to give running a try along their journey.
Susan Havens in a different chapter of life