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David Freeze: Gotta Run: remembering Ed Dupree

Remembering a legend

Ed Dupree wouldn’t have considered himself a legend. I did. He had a vast knowledge of all sports but was most interested in golf and running.

Many years ago, I realized that Ed knew plenty about running, was a good runner and was an avid coach of young runners. Our conversations over the years often concerned statistics and details that I couldn’t keep track of, but he could.

With Ed’s passing on Tuesday night after a long battle with leukemia, I realized that his great legacy was encouragement and inspiration. Several of his running friends weighed in about Ed as his condition worsened.

Kelly Lowman said, “Some of my fondest memories are of Coach and the Faith Flyers Track Team. I was probably one of the youngest he ever took on the track team and I started running in the 2nd grade. I ran from 2nd to 6th grade. I ran until his final year in 1986 when I went to Junior High. He still kept up with me in junior high and high school, coming to track meets and talking with me before and after races. Up until the day he died, I’d see him on my way into the Y or just out in the community and we’d stop and talk about running for a while. When I went to visit him at the hospice house, I told him I had recently run the NYC marathon and a big smile spread across his face. The man just truly loved running!”

Rebecca Julian said, “My brother Benjamin and I joined Faith Flyers toward the end of the team during the fall of 1983 when we were 7 years old. Coach always had the yellow clipboard of times, etc. He would log every workout and our times. Every meet he would have our splits for laps and the goal and final time. He was the best at stats and keeping them. I would ask him when in high school what I ran when I was 9 to 10 years old and he would look it up. That yellow clipboard proved to be so valuable!”

Lowman, current leader of Rowan’s female running, added, “I went to Faith Elementary and three days a week, Coach would stop at Faith, Granite and Rockwell to pick up the kids on the track team and take them to the East Rowan track for practice. It was always a 2-mile warm-up, then we’d sit together and stretch before starting our workout. Maybe that’s why today I still love to take my first two miles to get going.”

They had lots of fun too in his station wagon. “You didn’t have to worry about wearing seat belts. We just piled in like sardines and whoever didn’t fit in the middle seat got to go to the very back where we took turns riding. We would write letters on the bottom of our feet and hang them out the rear window for passing cars to read. We even rode around so much that one member of the team got car sick and we put him in the back of the station wagon. Instead of stopping, Coach just passed him a brown paper bag to throw up in and kept on going.”

Julian loved the trips too, “I remember my first national cross country meet as we (the team) all got in vans headed to Missouri to run in the freezing cold with snow on the ground. I think that’s when I realized how many kids across the country love the sport of running and what it takes to be national caliber. It was just so much fun even through miserable conditions to have a group of teammates enjoying running.”

Golfing and running friend Wayne Crowder said, “Ed was one of, if not THE running pioneer in Rowan County. His extensive coverage of the local running scene in the Post inspired many of us to join the fun. I was blessed to absorb some of his running knowledge. It was an understatement to say he had an encyclopedic brain when it came to sports.”

Why did so many of us love him? Julian, high school state champion and collegiate runner, summed it up, “I have thought about this the past few days. It was because he pushed you to what he knew you could do and then believed in you. That is what made him exceptional. He would have a time on his clipboard and before we went to the start, we would go over to him and get his pep talk including how to hit the time. Even though I would get butterflies toeing the line, I always felt comfort knowing he was there and believing in me.”

I did two stories about Ed and his long running streak. He had goals and quietly pursued them in a humble way. Ed encouraged and inspired me too. He put on my heart an adventure idea that I can’t shake and don’t want to. We’ll talk more about that later.

For today, let’s just remember a good man. One who left a huge legacy and was truly a legend, whether he would have thought so or not.

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