Brainsport is proud to present the Ric Hanna Leadership Award each December to a person who enhances the Saskatoon running community.

The award was established in 2007 in honour of the late Ric Hanna, one of Saskatchewan’s greatest road racers and a founding member of the Brainsport Run Club.

Hanna, who was born in Prince Rupert, B.C., had a celebrated career in cross-country running and track and field at the University of British Columbia before he moved to Saskatchewan with his wife and two sons in 1985 when he was in his late 30s. In addition to working as a special education teacher and coaching track and field, he was a frequent sight at road races across the province, often winning both the men’s open and age-class categories.

His personal-best marathon — 2:25 at the 1973 Vancouver Marathon — remains one of the fastest marathon times of a Saskatchewan resident.

Hanna was among the half-dozen athletes who gathered at the newly opened Brainsport store for the inaugural Run Club in July 1991. He consistently participated each week and volunteered to lead run club groups — even as his health began to deteriorate.

After years of knowing something wasn’t right, Hanna was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease in 2000. The genetic neurodegenerative illness was slowly killing his brain cells that controlled body movement, mood, decision-making and memory. Yet still he ran.

“He was a fighter,” recalls Hanna’s wife, Sue Hanna. “I guess you can’t be a marathon runner and not be a fighter.”

Brainsport Owner Brian Michasiw says Hanna was an incredible role model to him and others who gathered at the store to run.

“I was always impressed with his willingness to lead a group at the Brainsport Run Club. Even as his disease progressed, he was eager to help out and lead. He will always be an inspiration to me,” Michasiw said.

When Brainsport established the Ric Hanna Leadership Award seven years after Hanna’s diagnosis, it was a way of telling Hanna that he could pass on the torch, that others would step up to lead if he couldn’t.

Hanna died on July 4, 2016.

Past recipients:

2019: Harvey Mathies
2018: Don Cochrane
2017: Brent Senger
2016: Tarrant Cross Child
2015: Oliver Eaton
2014: Audrey Mowchenko
2013: Brian Breit
2012: Theresa Reid-Shea
2011: Jan Stirling
2010: No recipient
2009: Kevin Sutton
2008: Peter Goode
2007: Dave Stark