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Years at UA precious to Murray

Citizen Staff Writer
The Bounce



He competed in the 100-yard dash when a clocking of less than 10 seconds was something special.

Dave Murray ran the 100 in 9.9 seconds when he started his University of Arizona career and did the 440 in less than 50 seconds.

That was in 1963, when Arizona Stadium was more of an obstacle course than a track.

“The worse facility in college track,” said Murray, 66. “You started in the northeast corner, ran straight ahead and made a left turn and ran down the west side and the track veered from an eight-lane to a four-lane.”

Murray would come back after graduation and spend 35 years as a UA track coach and cross country coach – 19 years as men’s head track coach and 10 as the combined men’s and women’s coach.

His teams moved out of the worst facility to the best, he claims, when the present Roy P. Drachman Stadium was built in 1981.

On Saturday, it will be the site of the annual Willie Williams Classic, of which the Dave Murray Distance Classic is part.

Although he was a sprinter in college, distance running was Murray’s passion and he looks today as if he could run a marathon.

He’s trim and fit, although running has yielded a little more to bicycling. He’s riding three to five times per week in Jim Click’s cycling group.

Murray was the 1984 NCAA Coach of the Year. He has been Abdi Abdirahman’s private coach since Murray’s retirement from UA in 2001, and guided him through three Olympics in the 10,000 meters.

The two are readying for the “big one,” Abdirahman’s chance to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics in the marathon.

Murray believes the marathon will be Abdirahman’s crowning glory.

Murray coached every event when he began in an era of non-specialization.

He had to recruit 12 months a year. When he got a break and he took his family camping in the summer, he had to interrupt things and find the nearest phone to convince a recruit it wasn’t 110 degrees in Tucson year round.

“I wouldn’t trade my years at Arizona for anything,” he said, as fond of the place as ever.

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