Catch Him If You Can - Suffolk University Cross Country Coach Don Murray Still Running Strong After All These Years

10/25/2002

By Tony Ferullo

The best conditioned person on the Suffolk University cross country team doesn't attend class. Nor does he visit with friends in the student lounge or work as an intern in the mailroom.

That's because Don Murray is the team's head coach.

He runs six days a week, normally five or six miles at a time. He competes in races almost anywhere in the world each weekend throughout the year. He also lifts weights five days per week, does 300 sit-ups on a daily basis and attends yoga classes almost every other day at the Boston Athletic Club. He has competed in 24 Boston Marathons, including the one in 2002, and has performed in other major running events across the country.

Not bad for a man who celebrated his 68th birthday on October 24.

"I love running," said Murray, a Dorchester resident who looks much younger than his age. "It makes me feel alive. In other sports, there is a time when you have to eventually give it up. Running isn't like that. You can enjoy running for most of your life."

He certainly has. A former captain of the track team at Hyde Park High School and a competitive runner while in the Navy, Murray has been burning up the pavement ever since. Put this retired Boston Police Officer (he spent 42 years on the force before retiring in 1999) in a pair of running shoes and he is extremely hard to catch.

This past summer, for example, he won seven gold, two silver and two bronze medals while competing in the International Law Enforcement Games, held in Ottawa, Canada. He finished first in the 5K (3.1 miles) cross country road race, the 800, 1600 and 3000-meter races, as well as the long jump, obstacle assault course race, and the
half-marathon. In addition, he finished second in the 200 and 400-meter races, and third in the discus throw and shot put events.

How is Suffolk University's answer to Superman able to maintain his athletic success after all these years?

"Like I tell my runners, you use it or lose it," said Murray. "The body is meant to keep moving. Whoever said, 'fatigue makes cowards of us all,' is right."

This is Murray's second year in charge of the Suffolk cross country program. His approach to his men and women student athletes is based on old-fashioned values. "In this day and age, there is a lot of pressure on students between school, work and sports," said Murray, whose coaching staff at Suffolk is comprised of Suffolk employees Karen McKetchnie (manager of the Ballotti Learning Center) and Lou Greenwald (assistant director of undergraduate admissions). "I encourage my athletes to always work hard, try their best and never give up. I also treat them with the same respect as I want to be treated."

Suffolk University veteran athletic director Jim Nelson is impressed with Murray's ability to teach and motivate. "It has been our good fortune at Suffolk University to have an individual of Don Murray's enthusiasm, dedication and personality to lead our men's and women's cross country program." said Nelson. "Don is a shining example for so many of us to emulate in both his commitment to physical training and the value of positive thinking."

Murray doesn't smoke or drink and he follows a health diet, choosing salmon, fruits and vegetables over burgers, cookies and ice cream. "If you have the right fuel in your body, you're going to feel good and be at your best," he said. "When you're running, everything has to be working and you need all the energy you can. That's why eating right is so important."

He plans to make a trip to Barcelona, Spain next year to compete in the World Police and Fire Games. It will be the sixth time for him participating in this challenging and highly competitive event. He has dedicated most of his life to the sport of running and he doesn't want to stop now.

When asked how much longer he can follow this grueling pace, Don Murray casually raises his hands in the air. "I guess as long as I can," he said. "My goal is to win a race when I'm 70 and competing in the 70 and over division. After that, who knows?"

For more information, please contact:
Tony Ferullo at 617-573-8448

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