by Members of the Club
On July 13, 2022, James “Jim” Tierney passed away. To the HMRRC, he will be remembered as an elite runner and a faithful member. His Boston Marathon time in 1985 at age 51 is one for the books. He ran Boston in under three hours: 2:59:08. Other than excelling at running, he was a devoted member of the HMRRC who worked tirelessly to make it function smoothly and to promote running in the greater Albany area. His masterwork was the directorship of the Bill Robinson Master’s 10K race for almost 40 years.
Click here for the link to his Times Union obituary. To follow are remembrances of those who knew him well and loved him.
In addition to his running accolades, Jim was a valued and dedicated club volunteer and just an all-around nice guy. Most knew him as the director of the Masters 10K since 1999 up until 2020 when COVID hit causing the racing season to be canceled. Jim was proudly preparing for the 40th edition. In 2013, Jim had proposed renaming the race in Bill Robinson’s honor. Jim dedicated over a dozen years as Advertising/Business Director to the PaceSetter and even many more years picking up the mail daily at the club’s post office box on New Karner Road. Since part of this was in the era of registering for races and renewing memberships by mail there would be plenty of sorting and distributing.
I have fond memories of routinely getting to the monthly business meetings a half hour early just to talk with Jim about running, local sports, and baseball. Jim would arrive early to open up and set up as the meetings were held at the recreation center of his complex and he’d make sure all was neat tidy at the end of the meeting. Jim would proudly have additional copies of the Pace Setter he would pick up at the printing company for meeting attendees and for public relations distribution. This would often be prior to the magazine hitting our own mailboxes.
You would be hard pressed to find an individual who both broke 3 hours in Boston in their 50’s and directed a road race into their 80’s. Jim did just that. He was 84 years old when he directed the 2019 race. Rest in Peace Jim. You are missed.
Jim was a fine man. He was gentle, talented and humble. For some reason he became one of the three or four men in my life whose character, demeanor and behaviors I greatly admire and to which I have aspired to emulate. It had been pretty well known that he had cared for his beloved wife, in their home, for years after a debilitating illness kept her from being able to care for herself. At the time of her death a few of us who were only acquainted with Jim through club activities went to the services. Jim was very moved by the turnout of runners to his wife's memorial, and reached out to me to graciously extend his gratitude. After that day I considered him a friend and, in addition to looking forward to seeing him at monthly HMRRC meetings, I called him now and then to talk with him on the phone.
It had become clear to me that he loved the sport of running, which brought him much joy, friendship and pain over the years. He loved the HMRRC, his friends from the club and he had many good memories. Of course, one of these memories was his 9-minute personal best in the Boston Marathon at the age of 51. When I learned of this, I considered it a potential future goal for myself at the time. In the following few years, I committed to that goal which I refer to as "Tierney Territory."
He loved the City of Albany, the city in which he grew up at 222 Elm Street near the NYS Governor's mansion. On the wall of his home next to his kitchen /dining room table had several framed vintage era photographs of some Albany city streets and corners, right next to a framed, typewritten poem that his beloved, but heartbroken, wife had written following the accidental death of their teen aged daughter. He spoke lovingly of his dear wife and he briefly related the tragic story of the terrible auto accident that took his daughter's life. (I am in tears as I recall this moment).
I went to see Jim following the 2022 Masters 10k to bring him a T-shirt, an engraved glass from the race, and a mounted picture collage of the male and female runners and all the winners with their awards. He graciously accepted these items, and we had an hour-long conversation - mostly about the HMRRC. It was the last time I spoke with my friend. I hope he's sitting at that table from his home with his wife and daughter in heaven.
Jim and I ran in many races together over the years, always supporting each other, no matter what kind of day we had out on the course. When I started directing races, he would attend, and always had a kind word on how the race was organized. He would make suggestions, and I listened. I started giving discounts on entry fees to the 70 plus crowd before anyone else, and Jim came over to me at the first race I did with this fee structure he said to me he wished more events would do the same. Jim will be missed by all, and I will especially miss him at the Rabbit Ramble, when he would come to either run or just support us, bringing with him a handful of Bill Robinson Master's 10K forms, of course. RIP my friend.
His sub 3 hour time at Boston at the age of 51 is as remarakable as any performance you can name. He was a great guy and was very instrumental in the growth of the HMRRC.
Also from Jim's obit in the TU: "He often said his career was a success in part because he was always dependable, hardworking and had a good attitude and the ability to get along well with others."
Very true. Requiescat in pace, Jim. If there are marathons in heaven, you'll surely be there.
Jim was such a special soul. I have to say he was the kindest, most tenderhearted, and most welcoming gentleman to whoever was in his steps. When I joined the club and got involved, he listened - would stop in his tracks and you were the only one in the world when you spoke to him. He treated everyone as an equal. Jim was a hard worker and so loved his family and never complained and he did so. Much for the HMRRC and running in general. He will be missed.
Jim Tierney was a selfless, kind, tough, gentle man. I was always impressed at his devotion to Grace, and his devotion to aiding others. I knew Jim through running, and I was stunned at all the work he did to help the HMRRC, especially taking over the Bill Robinson masters race. If he asked me to do something, I always agreed, because of the greatness of his character. Rest in peace. Jim. you certainly earned it and deserve it.
I loved Jim. He was the ultimate gentleman. I worked with him on The Pace Setter for many years. I will miss him a lot, especially when his beloved Masters race comes around each year.
Jim was a gracious man who not only shared his thoughts and wisdom but listened when others shared theirs. He really was dedicated to HMRRC and worked tirelessly for it. His dedication and care of his wife was inspiring and so heartfelt. Tom and I will miss him.
So sorry to hear this! He was part of the backbone of the club.
Condolences to all his friends and family
Marna Meltzer McMorris
An absolute gem…
Barbara Ann Terry
So sorry to hear… he was a very special person….
I am so sorry!
I'm so sad to read this. He was such a great person who loved the sport of running. It was an honor to be a part of his race. My thoughts and prayers to his family.
Sad to hear this. Jim was a great runner but more importantly he was a great person. He always had a kind word for everyone. He was a dedicated volunteer for HMRRC. He will be missed.
Dedicated ally in all things HMRRC. Super competitive runner. Big time baseball fan. Proud Irish Albany family man. A friend.
Anne Rybinski Benson
So sorry to hear this sad news. He was such a nice person and so enthusiastic when directing the Bill Robinson Race.
Jim gave a great deal to the running community.
Jim was someone whose passion for running was evident as was that of volunteering to make others share in that passion.
I am also very sorry to hear this.