Former DHS runner returns to familiar course

August 03, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

Many of them come simply because they love to run, but many more come for the cause. And of those in the latter group Saturday, none came further than Earl Sullivan.

He hadn't run the cross country course at Admiral Stadium in 18 years, and he had been told to expect a decidedly different circuit than the one he remembered.

He knows better now.

Sullivan, a former Danville High School cross country runner now living in Boise, Idaho, was the victim of a good-natured prank by his former coach at Coach Plummer's 5K Run.

"I'm faster, but not smarter," he said.

Construction has necessitated changes to the course over the years, and E.G. Plummer, the namesake of the race benefitting the Danville cross country program he led for so many years, told him a bulldozer had flattened many of the hills that give the circuit its degree of difficulty.


"I always tell everybody with a big grin on my face that the course is either flat or downhill," Plummer said. "He knew better."

Maybe, maybe not. In the end, it didn't matter.

It didn't matter because Sullivan is a veteran distance runner whose training runs and competitions these days are far longer than Saturday's race distance of 3.1 miles.

More importantly, it didn't matter because Sullivan was happy to have the chance to support Plummer and this race.

It's the same reason that several other former Danville runners and friends of Plummer came to the race. And many more volunteered their time to help put on the event.

"I can believe that," Sullivan said. "You get a world of things from him when you're a kid. In the time I spent with him, I learned a lot of life lessons."

Sullivan, 32, didn't know many of the runners he competed against, including those Admirals who came after him. But he was front and center during the postrace awards ceremony, applauding everyone who received a medal.

His own award was for finishing first among former Danville runners in the race. He was 17th overall with a time of 22 minutes, 23 seconds.

Sullivan's parents, Jim and Carolyn, still live in Danville. And he planned a trip to his hometown to help his grandmother, Lidell Sullivan, celebrate her 91st birthday when he learned of the race taking place while he would be here.

It would give him a chance to see his former coach - "He's always a friendly face" - and to support him.

Plummer said he would like to see more support for the race from among local runners. Just 80 runners competed Saturday, while two local road races held within the last two months both attracted well over 100 runners.

"We want to try to find a better way to communicate with the runners," Plummer said.

Sullivan ran on Plummer's teams for six years, but left Danville after his freshman year and graduated in McCallie, Tenn. Plummer said Sullivan traveled with him to AAU national meets in Chicago, Kansas City, Mo., and Amarillo, Texas, during his days at Danville.

He came back to town to attend Centre College, but he ran only track, not cross country, in college.

"This is the first time I've been back on this course," he said.

Not that Sullivan couldn't handle it. He is training for the upcoming Chicago Marathon and for future triathlons. He has competed in marathons, but not since 2001, when he shattered his kneecap while training for a race in Honolulu.

And now that he knows this race and his grandmother's birthday are near the same time, this is one short run he'll keep on his schedule.

"I'll come back to support coach," he said.

McDaniel, Davis are overall winners

Todd McDaniel and Maggie Davis were the overall male and female winners with times of 18:47 and 23:30, respectively.

Eberly Davis and Elisabeth Smith were the masters award winners.

Cassie Trueblood, a 2003 Danville graduate, won the award for the top female cross country alumnus.

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