When she was nine years old, she was diagnosed with Stargardt's disease. In the course of the disease, her visual acuity deteriorated to 0.05. After graduating from Camarillo High School in 1987 Runyan began studying at the San Diego State University, where she began to take part in competitions in several disciplines such as heptathlon, hurdles, high jump and 800 -meter run. In 1994, she graduated with a Master 's Degree.
Her career started as a runner at the Pan American Games in 1999, where they won the race over 1500 meters for itself. Just one year later she could win an eighth place in the 1500 -meter run at the Summer Olympic Games in Sydney. The first Olympic athlete, who had previously participated in the Paralympics, Runyan famous worldwide following.
From 2001 to 2003 she was respectively U.S. champion in 5000 -meter run, from 2002 to 2004, she won three times in a row at the Freihofer 's Run for Women 5 km. In 2002 she was at the New York City Marathon in 2:27:10 h as the fastest American woman Fourth. In 2003, she was fifth at the Boston Marathon, the Chicago Marathon 2004 Seventh. After they had become by 2006 a win in the Twin Cities marathon national marathon champion, she finished her sporting career.
Marla Runyan is 1,73 m tall and weighs 54 kg. On August 5, 2002, she married her coach Matt Lonergan, with whom she lives in Eugene ( Oregon). In 2005, she brought a daughter into the world.
- With Sally Jenkins: No Finish Line: My Life As I See It Penguin Group, 2001, ISBN 0399148035 My way to the top. Luebbe, Bergisch Gladbach 2002, ISBN 3-7857-2087-4; ibid 2004, ISBN 3-404-61548-4