Sports

Sports

Race win start of busy day

McCullough heads to another competition after 13.1-mile run

April 16, 2007

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Jason McCullough, Fort Hays State track and field coach, runs downhill during the Lawrence Half-Marathon.  McCullough won the race Sunday.

Jason McCullough, Fort Hays State track and field coach, runs downhill during the Lawrence Half-Marathon. McCullough won the race Sunday.

Melissa Todd, of Manhattan, competes in the Lawrence Half-Marathon. Todd took first place in the women's division.

Melissa Todd, of Manhattan, competes in the Lawrence Half-Marathon. Todd took first place in the women's division.

Participating in the Lawrence Half-Marathon wasn't the only running around Jason McCullough had to do Sunday.

Just after winning the race with a time of 1:10:16, McCullough, the track and field coach at Fort Hays State, traveled to Emporia to join his athletes for the D-II Challenge at Emporia State's Fran Welch Stadium.

"They were OK with me being a little late - they know I run pretty hard all the time and do a lot of races," McCullough said of the track team. "As long as I'm there to coach, that's the main thing."

McCullough was a participant in 2001, when the event was the Raintree Run, and said he preferred the new course layout.

"This is probably one of the tougher courses I've run ... but it's actually one of the more exciting races I've run," McCullough said following the 13.1-mile race around Lawrence that finished in Haskell Stadium. "A lot of the races don't have the scenery and the landmarks that you run by. ... This course is real entertaining for the runner."

Finishing before the half-marathon was the 5K event - which had a host of familiar faces to the distance scene, such as former Olympian and Kansas track star Charlie Gruber, who crossed the line at 16:28 for third place in the 25-29 age group.

Kansas University running legend and former Kansas congressman Jim Ryun participated in the 5K as well - his first time running in the annual Lawrence event. It had been so long since Ryun last ran competitively that he couldn't recall when the previous race was.

"I've got some time. I'm not in Washington (D.C.) at the moment, so I have some more time that way," Ryun said. "And I enjoy being out and help support the concept of physical fitness and running, so this is what I could do to help by being a part of it."

Melissa Todd - another first-time runner in the Lawrence race - was the top female in the half-marathon. Todd, a resident of Manhattan, crossed the line with a time of 1:22:02.

"I'm actually training for a marathon right now ... in June so I'm doing marathons for the training," Todd said. "So today I honestly was trying to kind of take it a little bit easy because I ran a hard race last weekend."

There was another notable newcomer to the half-marathon - KU men's basketball assistant coach Joe Dooley.

The half-marathon was Dooley's first long distance race, but not his last. He intends to race another with his training partner, KU associate director of strength and conditioning Andrea Hudy, in the following months.

"We've been training miles during the season, but we hadn't run that far, so it was a little bit interesting," Dooley said. "A little too much hill, but that's OK - a couple of the hills got us. So it was fun; it was a good experience."

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