Murphy

Dave Murphy (right) volunteered for more than 1,200 races during his life.

We lost one of our most beloved community stewards late last month.

Dave Murphy, who had, over the past 45 years, volunteered at quite possibly more footraces than just about any other person in the country, suddenly and without any warning, peacefully departed this world. And the world that he left around us is most certainly a much better place thanks to the countless ways he gave to his neighbors.

The words kind and selfless just begin to scratch the surface of this wonderful person, who got out of bed for more than 1,200 Saturdays to help record the finishing time for countless runners. Those 1,000-plus events, thanks in great part to his help and expertise, entertained tens of thousands of runners and raised more than $5 million for community causes along the way. Dave was mighty fast back in the early 80’s, often breaking 60 minutes for 10 miles, but his real passion for the sport was in the notion of giving back.

He twice served as the Charlottesville Track Club president, leading the charge in making it one of the best not-for-profit running organizations in the country. He also sat on numerous community boards, including Madison House, and freely gave of his time to those in need. I had the pleasure of serving alongside this graceful and humble man for 12 years as we co-directed the Charlottesville 10 Miler together from 1984-1995.

His steady, thoughtful and patient mannerisms helped to calm this anxious type-A character and taught me to be a better person. I think all who had the pleasure of knowing Dave would agree that he made us and everything around us that much better. Dave was a super Dad, too. As a widower, he raised two sweet and kind girls, Margaret and Alina. Their hearts ache, as does mine, as we miss him so much.

As a distinguished Marine who served in Vietnam, Dave would very much appreciate us remembering him with a collective “Semper Fi” followed by a great big, loud “Oorah!”

Around the track

» Congrats to the 350 folks who participated in our first ever “Winter Mileage Club.” In a short three-month period, from Dec. 21 to March 21, this group of hearty runners and walkers of all abilities, from 7- to 20-minute pace, and all ages, from 16 to 82 years old, logged close to 70,000 miles. Wow! No winter hibernating for this group of dedicated exercisers.

» This year’s 55th edition of the Dogwood Track Classic was the largest ever. More than 2,000 athletes from 180 schools competed in one of the oldest high school track meets in the country. One of the unique aspects of the meet is how our four Charlottesville/Albemarle public schools, Albemarle, Charlottesville, Monticello and Western, come together to organize this wonderful event. And, a tip of the cap to co-directors Cass Girvin, Charlie Hurt and Alec Lorenzoni for all their hard in making this a truly first-class event.

» While we’re talking about record-breaking track meets, the Charlottesville Track Club and the Ragged Mountain Running Shop saw their annual All Central Virginia Middle School Track Meet balloon in attendance to more than 400 athletes from 16 are middle schools. A huge thanks to Coach Winston Brown and our friends at Fork Union Military Academy, who once again volunteered their time and expertise.

» At their annual end of the school year field day last week, Greenbrier Elementary School honored their beloved longtime P.E. teacher Ron Green for his four decades of dedicated service to the countless students this teddy bear of a man helped to enjoy “gym” class. How fitting it is that the school will now call its annual year-end race, “The Ron Green Relay.”

» Reebok’s Justyn Knight rocketed to a blistering 13:09 (4:11/mile pace) in a recent 5,000-meter race, making him the fastest person to ever train in our community. Wow!

» The CTC’s popular Fall Marathon and Half Marathon Training Program is open for registration and kicks off with its first group long run of the summer on June 29. The program has, for 27 summers, successfully prepared runners of all ages and abilities to train together to achieve their personal goals with an individualized program.

» Speaking of CTC training programs, the Women’s Four Miler kicked off their summer program this past week and will meet every Saturday morning at the UVa track. This wonderful program, led by the welcoming Pam Whorley, safely guides hundreds of women off the couch and into a comfortable lifestyle of exercise.

» The Women’s Four Miler is set for Saturday, Aug. 31, with almost a thousand running and walking (half the field) females already entered. Go to womens4miler.org for more information.

» Run Charlottesville for Kids was started, on a volunteer basis, last fall by Maddie Rennyson and Mary Blankemeier, two talented UVa track and field athletes who wanted to offer a free running program to grade school kids of all socioeconomic backgrounds, in a fun and organized setting. The program has grown in leaps and bounds. Every Sunday this past spring, more than 100 kids joined the fun. They will be kicking off registration for their wonderful fall program soon.

» The beautiful new Charlottesville High School track, named on honor of legendary Black Knight track coach Curtis Elder, is finished and will soon be open to the public. We are grateful to CHS Athletic Director Rodney Redd for opening the gates of this first-class facility to his neighbors.

» Speaking of Curtis Elder, his grandson William Trent, who is on the Monticello track team, outsprinted the competition in a tight race to take the blue ribbon in the 400 meters at the VHSL Class 3 state championships in late May. Western’s Joe Hawkes also took home a state title, winning the 3,200 at the Class 3 meet.

» Hot fun in the summertime! We have loads of family friendly running and walking events on tap for the next few months, including Wes Bellamy’s We Run the Streets 4 Miler (June 29), The United Way Relays (June 30), The Kiwanis Independence Day 5K (July 4), The YMCA’s Saturdays in the Park for families (July 6 and 13), The Turn and Burn Trail run (July 13), The PR Run for NPR (July 20) and The Beer Mile (July 31).

» Maybe no other summer event is more popular than the Charlottesville Track Club’s wonderful and family friendly Summer All-Comers Track meets (July 11, 18 and 25). These meets, which offer a variety of kids and adults events from 100 to 5000 meters, entertain hundreds of folks each week. This is the club’s oldest continuous event, having started back in 1975. Go to the Charlottesville Track Club web site (cvilletrackclub.org) for more information.

» Thomas Adam (4:22) and Lauretta Harbilas (5:00) led close to 100 other speedy folks across the finish line at the 28th running of The Bruce Barnes Mile in Greenwood last Saturday. UVa professor Ian Harrison celebrated his 60th birthday with a new course record of 5:11 for the 60-69 age group. Wow!

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Mark Lorenzoni has been coaching runners of all abilities and directing countless community footraces, on a volunteer basis, for close to forty years. He can be reached at 434-293-3367 or follow him on Twitter @CoachZoni.

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