Year Inducted: 2016
When one thinks of a running hall of fame, thoughts quickly focus on very fast runners. Yes, one will expect to find great coaches there too. But our running community runs much deeper than just those two tracks. There will also be those who are strong and steadfast runners while being significant contributors to our sport and lifestyle. Jim Gross is one of those individuals.
Jim spent 36 years working for the Montgomery County Health Department, seven years as the Health commissioner. In that role, Jim developed and led the largest healthy lifestyle program in Ohio (GetUp Montgomery County), This initiative was supported by over 200 entities, including healthcare systems, government, school systems, and nonprofit/private companies. Its focus was on active living and healthy eating. It is still in existence today.
Jim was the chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Ascent in the mid 1980’s which raised over $100,000. Currently, he is developing and heading an asthma improvement project for inner city children who want to run like other kids.
He serves on a number of boards, including the Community Health Centers of Greater Dayton and the Metro Parks 5 Rivers Foundation.
As a member of the Dayton Athletic Association committee, Jim helped to organize the Dayton River Corridor Classic half-marathon for many years. Jim has volunteered at numerous races for the ORRRC and at other race events over the years.
Through all of these roles, Jim has always promoted running as a valuable and viable component of a healthy lifestyle. He has used his professional opportunities to segue his love of running into a positive lifestyle tool for others to use to improve their health. He is a true ambassador for our sport of running.
Jim may be best known in the running community for his leadership of the crew he led called “The Gross Lunch Bunch”. This group included athletes and non-athletes alike, most of whom worked in downtown Dayton. Jim mentored this collection of runners for many years and they were routinely a competitive team in the ORRRC team series during the early to mid 1990’s. He was also a member of the fast and hard running “Athletes Unknown” team in the 1980’s.
Jim has logged over 95,000 miles running in and around the Dayton area over the past 40 years. He trekked over 40,000 of those miles on the Dayton River Corridor Bikeway.
Jim has ran over 600 races to date and has recorded very respectable PR's at the 5K (16:20), 10K (34:25), and the half-marathon (1:16:15). He also ran 27:50 at the ORRRC Turkey Trot 5 miler at 40 years of age. But where he really gets your attention is in the marathon distance. He has completed ten marathons, all of them under 3 hours. He ran eight of them under 2:49, with his PR coming in Columbus (2:44).
In one season of coaching (1978), Jim coached the Beavercreek junior high track & field team to an undefeated season. He is currently coaching middle school cross country at Centerville City Schools.
Jim not only talks the health and running lifestyle, he lives it. He is an outstanding runner, leader, and friend to many in our running community.