David Freeze: Gotta Run

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 13, 2018

It has been six weeks since I finished the Run/Walk across North Carolina. It still seems impossible in some ways, but it did happen. I loved the challenge and the experience, but I couldn’t and didn’t want to shake the feeling that this achievement wasn’t all that much about me. The idea for my run across NC came from Ed Dupree and honestly, had he not mentioned it, I wouldn’t have crossed 647 miles in a month. But he did, and a little bit of the soreness remains and I think of Ed when that shin or a foot aches a little.

By now, most of you know about my connection to Ed Dupree. Every time we met, our conversation quickly got around to running. Ed loved the sport for many reasons and he loved how he connected with so many people because of it. The young athletes he coached for many years, the older ones that he raced against and all those record setters that he kept detailed track of. Nobody knew more about local running than Ed Dupree. Ed knew a lot about racing too. Just a few years back, he did many of them and kept up with the results of each and every one. And now, fittingly, Ed has his own 5K.

The Ed Dupree 5K for Hospice is set for 8:30 a.m. at the East Rowan High School track and neighborhood on Saturday, May 19. It is a fast course, starting and ending on the track and using the circular loop of Braun Estates. Awards go to the top three overall and three deep in ten age groups for both male and female, plus every participant gets a commemorative dri-fit T-shirt and plenty of refreshments. A half mile fun run for kids, 10 and under, follows at 9:30 a.m.

His daughter Allison told me today how the idea of a race honoring Ed came about. She said, “Our family (mom, dad and my brother Brett) decided while we were at Glenn A. Kiser Hospice House with dad in his last days that we wanted to do something to honor his memory, his love of running, and to pay our respects to Rowan Hospice and Palliative Care for their wonderful care of Dad in his final days at their facility.”

She continued, “This race honors Dad in the best way possible — through the celebration and love for running and fitness and to setting and achieving goals. These are two things that displayed the way he lived his life every day. He let nothing stop him from missing a day of running — not rain, not sleet, not snow, not a fever, not the flu etc. It took a life-ending illness like leukemia to snap his running streak. Dad was also a goal setter and a goal achiever. I don’t know of many goals he set for himself that he didn’t achieve. Probably the only two were running across NC and playing every golf course in North Carolina.” Ed’s ending number was close to 400 golf courses and just a few remained. He still planned to play them when we had our real conversation last September.

This is the first running of this race to honor a special person who was dedicated to the sport of running and to helping youngsters develop a love of the sport as well (when he coached the Faith Flyers Track Team in the 1970s/1980s). The Dupree family hopes to make this an annual event to celebrate Ed’s life and keep his memory alive. Proceeds from the 5K and fun run will go to Glenn A. Kiser Hospice House in Salisbury, NC and to the Ed Dupree Memorial Scholarship Fund at East Rowan High School (to be awarded each May to a senior athlete).

It is common for us long-time runners to size up a person after not seeing them for a while with the key question. Ed’s was, “Are you still running?” Mine is, “How is your running?” Either way, we usually got our answer, good or bad. Ed was hoping that everyone would keep doing it, just like he did. On Saturday, May 19, you get the chance to come out and answer his question. Runners, walkers and anything in between, seeing them participating in his honor would have made Ed smile. It would make a great celebration for the Dupree family and me too. I hope to see you there.

Information on other upcoming races is available at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org

Two of our oldest races are coming up next, the Bare Bones 5K on May 19 benefitting Relay for Life and the Main Street Challenge 5K in China Grove on June 1, benefiting the Y scholarship programs.