Cross Country Hosts Walt Crawford Memorial

Thursday, September 4 2008 - EIU Walt Crawford Alumni Meet

Walt Crawford is shown here completing the 5K walk in July 2005

CHARLESTON, Ill – Eastern Illinois men’s and women’s cross country will kick off the 2008 season this Saturday with the Walt Crawford Memorial Alumni Meet. The event will start at 5:30 p.m. at the EIU Panther Trail.

The race will consist of current EIU cross country team members along with about 30 returning cross country alumni. The men will cover a distance of 4 miles while the women’s will compete at 2.1 miles.

The Alumni Meet is named in honor of Walter Crawford who died on August 11, 2006. In his memory, a memorial distance running scholarship at Eastern Illinois is awarded every year.

Walt was an inner city athlete from Chicago who ran the streets, trying to avoid rival gang members as he became one of the better “distance runners” in the city. He came to EIU, but we had no scholarships for anyone, so like everyone else, Walt “walked on” in the late 1960’s. After a couple of years, he felt the need to “mature”, so he joined the Marines. When he returned to EIU in the mid 1970’s he was developing into a very good runner. After graduation (he returned home to teach ..for 28 years... in the very inner city he knew so well) he became very successful in longer runs. He placed 6th in the Chicago Marathon (1978) and in the early-mid 1980’s, he was the best American born black long distance runners in the country. He was very successful in 50 mile and 100K events. In 2002, he started having problems with his arms and within two years, it was obvious that he had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). He fought valiantly, never complained and learned to do emails (using the voice operated computer former EIU runners bought).