By Jack Copeland
It’s hard to imagine that anyone has left more footprints around the world than Lori Stich.
The former track and cross country standout graduated from Ripon with a degree in classical piano performance, then attended law school in Atlanta and was selected as managing editor of the Emory International Law Review.
Through the years, she has practiced at firms in Michigan, Oregon and Texas, backpacked across Europe, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, run with the bulls in Pamplona, and visited sites ranging from the pyramids of Egypt to the Taj Mahal.
So maybe it’s no surprise that this long-distance traveler, now 43, continues to compete at the longer distances of her chosen sport.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Colorado resident traveled to Rhode Island for the 4.1-mile Pell Bridge Run, finishing 31st overall among more than 3,000 participants, third among women, and first in the 40-44 age group. She also regularly runs competitively around her current home state (last month, she finished third among all women in a 15,000-meter race in Denver).
At Ripon, Stich twice qualified as an individual entrant in the Division III Women’s Cross Country Championships, improving from a 67th-place finish in 1989 to 53rd place in 1990. She was a team captain in both cross country and track, in which she set a total of six indoor and outdoor school records and 11 conference marks at distances ranging from 600 to 10,000 meters.
But just as she was exploring her talents on campus as a pianist and preparing herself for law studies, she still really was taking her first steps as a distance runner.
About a month following graduation, she entered her first marathon just for the experience. She surprised herself by qualifying for the 1992 Boston Marathon, where she later went on to finish in the top 25 twice.
It wasn’t long before Stich began to aim for qualifying for the Olympics, participating in U.S. marathon trials in 2000, 2004 and 2008.
She hasn’t added an Olympic host city’s streets to her world-trotting itinerary, though she came close in 2004, placing as the top amateur at that year’s trials and earning selection as an alternate for the Athens games.
During her career, she also has used the talents she cultivated at Ripon for others’ benefit, running to collect pledges of donations for beneficiaries ranging from Habitat for Humanity to her son’s cross country team.
Nominated by Mike Westemeier, director of sports information at Ripon College.