Greg Price runs, raises money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital
Published 3:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2015
In 2004, Trojan Greg Price formed a running team to assist with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Over the past decade, the team has raised $1,492,312 for the hospital.
“In our first year, we raised more than $300,000 at the Marine Corps Marathon in D.C.,” Price said. “The team consists of running friends across seven states.
Many are accomplished, competitive runners. Others are compassionate supporters who use running as a beneficial outlet for health and charitable assistance.”
Price began running competitively when he was 14 years old. Over the past several decades, he has logged an incredible, 64,000-plus training and competition miles.
“My running career has been rather exciting,” Price said. “In high school and college, I was a competitive tennis player. Briefly, I was a ranked professional tennis player. The highlight of my career was a 2-1 set loss to Pete Sampras in a ramp-up tournament for the U.S. open. Shortly after the loss to Sampras, I suffered a career-ending injury. Since my tennis-playing days at Troy State, I enjoyed an unprecedented string of knee injuries. Following the last injury, I began rehab under the careful observation of Doc Anderson and Chuck Ash.”
A return to running proved therapeutic for the Price’s tennis injury but also a painful realization that, for him, competitive tennis was finished.
“The return to running was a wonderful experience,” Price said. “When I was a child, I trained with Nick Costes. He worked with me for a number of years, trying to convince me that I was not a good short distance runner; however, I wrongly knew better.”
Price chased fast, short distances as a teenager, with limited success. So, a bit older, and perhaps wiser, he began to log slow, long runs.
“The effort repaired my knee, and I found my love for running again,” Price said. “I continued to pile up the miles and increase endurance. One afternoon, I was jogging with Doc, and he offered me a dash of sage Doc advice. ‘You should have listened to Nick. You have a serious gas tank and should run long.’”
Price entered a series of endurance races across the state and discovered that he enjoyed the solitude and challenge of pushing his mind and body over great distances.
“I managed to qualify as a pacing partner for the 1996 Summer Olympics,” Price said. “I worked hard to make the 10K team, but fell short of the final qualifier by 41 seconds; however, I was invited to work with the team. I paced a number of the runners, including Bob Kennedy.”
Kennedy ran a sub 13-minute 5K at the games and set a number of American records during his career.
“During the games, I met a number of wonderful runners and forged some great friendships,” Price said. “The culture of running embodies healthy living and positive outlook. I was invited to participate in a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in 2003. We toured the facility, met many children and their families. It was during the event that I witnessed firsthand the power of generosity.”
St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital is renowned for not turning away sick children despite the family’s ability to pay. The facility operates completely from donations.
“The children were enthusiastic to meet our motley group of runners,” Price said. “Some of our crowd were true Olympians, the fastest in the United States. I represented a smaller, fringe group of ultra-long distance runners, known then as absurd lunatics. At the time, I held the United States record for the most distance covered across terrain (non-track) in 48 hours – 216 miles.”
After the St. Jude event, Price sent messages to a number of friends, and together they forged a fundraising running team. The group ran marathons and ultra-marathons, raising money for local charities and children’s hospitals.
“In early 2004, we worked with St. Jude’s to form a team,” Price said. “We chose the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington D.C. as our key event for that year and raised more than $300,000 for the hospital. We continued our efforts as a team, completing a decade of races in 2014, raising nearly $1.5 million dollars. The decade tally was 57 marathons, 31 ultra-marathons.”
Price ran three events of more than 200 miles and seven100-mile events for the charity team.
“Along the 10-year journey, we experienced a lot,” Price said. “Two of the crew passed away, sadly. Scores of injuries, many ridiculous stories arose. Chris McDougall interviewed a number of us for his bestseller, ‘Born to Run.’
“Running became more popular, and the term ultra-endurance is now somewhat fashionable; however, we helped a number of children find hope and relief – something that is very satisfactory and incredibly difficult to put into words.”
Over the years, Price received many letters from the children the team had helped. In 2004, Price he received a crayon drawing from an 11-year old girl at St. Jude’s.
“She drew the picture for the ‘crazy running guy from Alabama.’” Price said. “She had been diagnosed with a form of cancer when she was nine years old. Through several efforts, I inquired about her just before our 10-year racing anniversary last year. She recently graduated from college and aspires be a pediatrician.”
Price said he doesn’t regret being chased by bears in the woods of Virginia in 2006. He doesn’t regret the strange hallucinations during a 200-mile run in Mississippi or the conversation with the Michelin man.
“I don’t regret running with an IV at the IronHorse 100 in Florida,” Price said. “I’ve enjoyed every step and look forward to the next.
“My favorite quote about running is from Chris McDougall, ‘You don’t stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.’ I’m not getting old.”