From high heels to Hall of Fame

Jill Stamison finds it funny, and more than a little ironic, that after a five-year stint on the Western Michigan University track and field team, followed by a decade of professional running, she's best known for a 150-yard dash while wearing high heels.
Matt DeYoung
Oct 28, 2011

Stamison, originally from Lake Forest, Ill., and a Grand Haven resident the past decade, made national headlines by establishing a Guinness World Record for running 150 yards in 3-inch heels. She also compted in the the High Heel-A-Thon in 2008, an event hosted by “Live with Regis and Kelly.”

“I talk more about that silly race than anything legitimate I’ve done with track,” Stamison said. “That’s the one race that people want to talk about. They ask what was Regis like, what was Kelly like. That race was much more interesting, to women, especially.”

This weekend, she’ll have a chance to relive some of those “legitimate” experiences as she’s inducted into the Western Michigan University Athletic Hall of Fame.

Stamison will be recognized during a presentation tonight, then will be announced during halftime of the Broncos’ football game against Ball State on Saturday.

Stamison recalls that her track and field career at WMU certainly didn’t get off to a blazing start.

“It took me a while to get used to the year-round training,” Stamison said. “I always practiced hard, but when it came time to run in meets, I didn’t perform. I graduated in four years and was ready to move on.”

Instead of heading to law school, she enrolled in graduate school at Western, hoping for one more shot to excel on the track.

“I had to beg the coach to get me back on the team for my fifth year,” Stamison said. “I came back for my final season. I’m so glad I did, because that changed everything. I had a great senior year. I was a two-time All-American in the 800, and I had a seven-year professional career after that with Asics and Nike.

“Coming back for that fifth year changed everything. Now I don’t have any regrets.”

Stamison’s fondest recollections from her college days are the times spent with her teammates.

“My best memories are of the road trips with the girls, the camaraderie that came with being part of a team,” she said. “When I got the call (about the hall of fame), I was very grateful. I don’t think I had a great career. I had a great year, and I’m so glad they recognized that.”

Stamison went on to run professionally until 2000, when she got pregnant. After the birth of her daughter, Olivia, she competed on and off, but never really devoted herself to her running after that.

“My priorities changed,” said Stamison, 41, who now works as a program supervisor for a substance abuse program in Muskegon.

Stamison’s step-father, Mike Hartenstine, was a member of the Chicago Bears’ team that won Super Bowl XX in 1985.

“He came in with Walter (Payton) in ‘75 and played until 1987,” she said. “On the Super Bowl team, he was replaced by William Perry and Dan Hampton. He started all those years in the 80s when the Bears were terrible.

“He’s always been my idol.”

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