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Richmond goes the distance to the Hall of Fame

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August 24, 2011 - When it comes to distance running in the history of Oxford High School athletics, Donald "Donnie" Richmond ranks as one of the most prolific runners in school history.

It is due to his domination in track and field and cross country that Richmond takes his place as one of the "Charter Class" members of the Oxford High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

"It really is an honor," Richmond said. "I've been reading the articles and there are so many incredible athletes and coaches...to be in the same mention and the same nomination as them is just incredible."

"It's been a really special thing for me and my family," he added.

Richmond said it was a combination of "being good at something and also having a family that can completely relate to everything that I am doing and even has done a lot of coaching with me."

"My dad has been so supportive throughout the years with all my running, he has almost been like a second coach to me, even now," he said.

According to Richmond, both his parents were marathon runners.

"Since the time I was a little kid, I was kind of getting taken around to road races and I was a little cheerleader," he said. "I kind of caught the bug early on and I just get a really incredible satisfaction from it."

"It kind of just evolved when I got to middle school age, and even a little younger than that being able to run road races and things myself," he added.

Even before Richmond became an eight time letter winner at OHS, he was putting up impressive times at Oxford Middle School. He set the OMS records in the two-mile cross country course (11:21) and in the 3200 meter (10:39).

"Going after the middle school record, that was a really big deal to me," he said.

By the time he finished at OMS, Richmond would also hold the 1600 meter record (4:57).

Richmond's dominance continued when he finished second overall at the Flint Metro League Championship in 2000 as a freshman, which propelled Oxford to the first of four FML Cross Country titles during Richmond's time on the varsity squad.

He also captured three strait FML Cross County individual titles, from 2001-04, during his time as a Wildcat.

Richmond would be named captain of the cross country team as a sophomore, junior and senior and earn all-county honors during those seasons as well.

During his sophomore year, Richmond won the Junior Olympic state cross country championship and was a national runner-up.

Richmond would win the Michigan High School Athletic Association regional cross country championship and finished 11th at the state cross country finals in 2002.

To date, Richmond still remains the OHS boys cross country record holder with his time of 15:48.

"Its (feels) good, but at the same time, Oxford has a special place in my heart and you always love seeing your name up there, but I hope one of these days more than one kid comes along that can run faster than that because it will good for the school," Richmond said. "It's kind of bittersweet at the same time; I wish Oxford all the best and as much as I like having the record, I would definitely like to see some young kids who can challenge my record."

Richmond remains the only male athlete to win ten individual track and field league titles. He also never an individual race during FML competition.

He captured the 1600 meter and 3200 meter during all four years he ran track, and won the 800 meter event during his junior and senior seasons.

In addition to his league titles, Richmond would go on to win the MHSAA 3200 meter regional championship twice in 2003 and 2004 and won the Oakland County 3200 meter championship in 2004.

"It was a really special night out there at Milford track for me to break that," he said. "That record had been up there since...Elder Goodfellow. I had been chasing that for a long time."

As a senior, Richmond was the regional champion in the 1600 meter.

Throughout his varsity career, Richmond qualified for the MHSAA track finals five times and finished his career as the school record holder in the 3200 meter (9:20) and the 800 meter (1:56.1).

Richmond said the first time qualifying for the state finals for the mile in track was one of the highlights of his career.

"For not making it as a freshman, it was pretty devastating. I had made it in cross country and I didn't make it in track, so my sophomore year when I finally made it to the division one state meet, it was a huge relief to run that qualifying time," Richmond said.

After graduating from OHS in 2004, he enrolled at Central Michigan University and was part of the 2004 Mid American Conference championship men's cross country team, the 2005 MAC indoor and outdoor track championship and 2006 MAC outdoor track championship teams.

Richmond still runs competitively as a member of the Playmakers elite team, a store based in Okemos.

"I train with the team and we go to races together," he said. "After college, it's tough to do it on your own, and when you are trying to take it to the next level, the Olympic trials and things like that, it's fun to run with guys who are dreamers like you and are willing to put a career off for a while and chase a dream."

For Richmond, that dream is to eventually run a marathon at the United States Olympic trials.

"Ever since I was in middle school I wanted to run in the Olympic trials...and at my age, 26, you got a window where you got to go after those things. For the next eight years or so I think it's something worth chasing, or at least saying I've put everything into it and being satisfied no matter what happens," he said.

Richmond thinks he would be ready to compete by the 2016 Olympics, which are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

He said in order to qualify for the Olympics, he needs to run a marathon in under two hours, 20 minutes. Even though he hasn't run a marathon yet, he has competed in plenty of 5k and 10k races.

Richmond currently lives in Portland, Michigan.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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