Charlotte Richardson spoke with Max Goldwasser live during Wednesday's edition of the Olympic Zone
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Charlotte Richardson did just about everything over the course of her career as a professional runner. The New England native, now a Sisters resident, was a pioneer for the sport, specifically for female runners participating in longer distances.
In 1976, Richardson qualified for the 1500 meters in the Olympic Trials, but fell just short of fulfilling her Olympic dream.
Still, she has nothing but good memories when looking back at that point of her career.
"First of all, all the track fans in Eugene at Hayward Field are so knowledgeable," Richardson told NewsChannel 21 during Wednesday's Olympic Zone. "The minute we came out to warm up for our race, people clapped, they yelled things, they knew times, they knew splits. When you're running at Hayward Field, there is nothing like it. The crowd is with you 100%. You're so respected as a runner, or as a field events person -- whatever it is. It's the ultimate experience, as far as a track and field athlete is concerned."
Richardson still managed to amass quite the career resume. She set numerous running records in her hometown in New England, became the first woman to run in the Mt. Washington Road Race, and even headed up the Nike Women's Track and Field Department.
But her proudest career accolade is something which cannot be measured.
"It is opening up doors for more women to get involved in the longer distances," Richardson said. "When I started, there weren't women's sections of different road races in New England. We were only running two miles or under for cross country. Running became that goal for me, to make changes for other women."
For about 50 years, she's also spent time on the other side of the sport, as a coach and mentor. Come fall, she'll passing down her knowledge to the student-athletes at the new Caldera High School in southeast Bend, as the first head track and field coach in that program's history.
"I hope that that fun aspect, that joy, comes through with my coaching," Richardson said. "I hope every single kid who comes out loves what they're doing, and also they realize they can be athletes the rest of their lives."
Richardson added, "Running changed me profoundly. As a woman, the confidence I got from the training and from the racing -- racing is hard stuff -- I changed as a person. I hope by teaching these kids about training -- setting goals, achieving these goals and then kind of evaluating what they've done -- I hope they bring this into the rest of their lives."