Saturday, December 10, 2016

V 6 N. 89 David Hunter, Writing for the Future Today

David Hunter, Writing For The Future Today

By Paul O’Shea

David Hunter

The journalist, it is said, writes the first rough draft of history. Historians of the future, who write the polished books and biographies about today’s track and field achievements, will be well served. Our journalists are one of the sport’s impressive strengths.

One journalist with a steadily rising reputation is David Hunter, who came to write about track and field after a successful legal and banking career. Hunter is now a prolific presence in our media, writing for enthusiast magazines and blogs, announcing at meets, and leading efforts to expand road competitions. All while disproving F. Scott Fitzgerald’s hoary observation that there are no second acts in American lives.

In print Hunter is a U.S. Correspondent for Track and Field News. He writes about a half-dozen pieces a year, and interviews elite athletes at the magazine’s tour events. On the Internet he produces a weekly column called “Right on Track” for RunBlogRun. At major competitions such as the Olympics and World Championships, he provides a daily story. In the last five years, more than three hundred articles have carried his byline.

As a journalist Hunter’s reported at three World Championships, an Olympics, and covered dozens of other major competitions including the U.S. Olympic Trials, USATF Championships, Diamond League meets and Penn Relays. His work also appears in Road Runners Club of America and Princeton alumni publications.

Larry Eder, RBR’s editor says, “David Hunter began writing for me nearly five years ago, on a fluke.  A mutual friend, Creigh Kelley, suggested that I give David a try as a writer.  I respect Creigh, and so I gave it a try.  David’s first few pieces were surprisingly good: grammar, pace, but most of all, appreciation for the sport.  For Hunter this is a second career.  David has been with me at the World Champs in Beijing, the Rio Olympics, and U.S. championships, for the past five years.  He is a great resource and great friend.  I learn something each time he opines on an athlete, coach or key player in our sport.”


Hunter’s extensive knowledge, both of the sport’s present day precincts as well as of its news clip history, opened up opportunities in broadcast as an on-site meet announcer and in telecasts.  He is the stadium voice for one of the Midwest’s prominent outdoor meets, the Jesse Owens Track Classic.  In the winter he is the meet announcer for the Millrose Games held at a sold-out New York City Armory. He’s also fulfilled assignments for the Spire Institute, the Big Ten Network, FloTrack and USATF.

“The Rio Olympics—my first—were terrific.  It surprised me to see how much I savored the medal ceremonies, especially since the U.S. won thirty-two, the most since the l932 Games, in a non-boycotted Olympics.  I had thought of those podium sessions as rituals, somewhat corny and overly dramatic--until I witnessed them.  They are truly stirring and in many instances, captured what certainly is the zenith of an athlete’s life.

“When the gold medalist was an American, I found myself lustily singing the Star Spangled Banner.  On the other hand, the low point came when the clueless Brazilians booed the athletes from other nations such as French pole vaulter Renaud LaVillenie and U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin.  That stimulated me to write an article for RunBlogRun titled: “Excuse Me, No Booing at the Olympics.”  

Of all the performances he’s written about, the most impressive was the decathlon world record set by Ashton Eaton at the 2012 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Before a crowd of more than twenty thousand at Hayward Field, Eaton ran the 1500 meter final event two seconds faster than needed to break an eleven-year old record.

“To be at Hayward among a packed crowd—that included every living American Olympic decathlon gold medalist—to witness Ashton’s dramatic decathlon world record performance was a track and field performance I will never forget.”

In addition to covering the sport’s news, the Ohioan played a leadership role in two events involving prominent road races. The first: Hunter led the near-miss bid by the city of Akron as it sought the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials, one of four cities vying for the honor.  Though the effort was ultimately unsuccessful, his law background was particularly valuable.  

“During the in-person visit we received from the USATF, you could see that the representatives thought a quick, cordial visit would allow them to check the ‘Akron box,’ and then they would be on their way.  But as our two-day inspection unfolded, you could see their eyes get bigger as they learned we had an impressive and carefully assembled presentation.  While we ultimately didn’t get the nod, I was told privately that had the Long Distance Running sub-committee not been pre-disposed to award the bids to large urban areas, we would have been awarded one of them,” Hunter emphasizes.

He also played a key role as a member of the leadership team that in five years took the Akron Marathon from concept to national status.  In addition to designing the course with a colleague, he now serves as the event’s co-announcer, which draws one hundred thousand spectators. His website is www.TrackandFieldHunter.com.

A Buckeye native, his early days were spent in northeastern Ohio. As a high school freshman at Kent State University School in Kent, he became interested in track and ran a 4:44 mile.  Transferring to Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, he left with marks of 4:24 and 9:31 for two miles.  From there he matriculated at Princeton University and joined the track team, but a knee injury and surgery ended a collegiate career much too soon.  Later, in his thirties, he resumed serious running in Open and Masters events, eventually completing seventeen Boston Marathons.  

His crowning athletic achievement was running the 1983 Boston Marathon in a scintillating 2:31:40 where he was the 358th finisher.  Two elite women finished ahead, the legendary Joan Benoit Samuelson and 1980 Boston winner, Jacqueline Gareau.  “In 2010 I ultimately had to hang up my Asics, when a persistent and dangerous cardiac condition forced me to the sidelines.”

Hunter’s undergraduate degree, with a concentration in economics was conferred by Princeton.  He then attended the University of Akron School of Law, receiving a J.D. degree, and received L.L.M. honors in corporation law from New York University School of Law.

Hunter’s legal career spans more than forty years. He joined Brouse McDowell, a midwestern business law firm in l974, rising to Senior Partner, and became Of Counsel this year. Concurrently with working at Brouse he was chairman and chief executive officer of Valley Savings Bank for nearly a quarter century.  

The writer/lawyer crossover is not an unknown blending of talents.  John Grisham comes easily to mind; less so does Harper Lee, who dropped out of law school before accomplishing greater feats behind a typewriter. Even Franz Kafka had some legal training.
There was a seamless transition from corporate life to the world of track and field journalism for Hunter. Both demand accuracy, the discipline to meet frequent and unrelenting deadlines, and the ability to sift the wheat from the chaff, measured as carefully as a high jump world record.

His evolvement was based on a passion for the sport he was to write about. “My private law practice centered around banking law, real estate and corporate and business reorganization.  That involvement helped me to organize my thoughts in a logical way and develop the writing skills that were essential to producing interesting and informative pieces.”

And for a second calling, to contribute his own polished work to the historian/writers of the future.
When Bicknell Prize recipient David M. Hunter graduated from Western Reserve Academy
in 1968 he held all of the school's records in track and cross country.  Legendary WRA coach Frank
Longstreth considered Hunter to be the greatest distance runner in the history of the school.  After an
abbreviated collegiate career interupted by injury at Princeton, Hunter enjoyed a distinguished legal career
with the Akron-based firm of Brouse McDowell and was a lifelong, highly-competitive marathoner [2:31:40]
and road racer.  He competed in 17 Boston Marathons and played a primary role in the development of the
Akron Marathon.  David Hunter contributed to Western Reserve Academy in exemplary fashion over the course
of 30 years as a member of the Board of Trustees, culminating with his being granted Trustee Emeritus status
in the fall of 2015.  David's commitment to excellence, and his passion for the school were reflected in all
that he did as a student alumnus and trustee of Western Reserve Academy.

His life is a shining example of how to compete, serve and lead.


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Paul O’Shea is a lifelong participant in the track and field and running world as athlete, coach and journalist.  After a career in corporate communications, he coached a high school girls’ cross country team and was a long-time contributor to Cross Country Journal and Athletics, the Canadian publication. He now writes for Once Upon a Time in the Vest from his home in northern Virginia, and can be reached at Poshea17@aol.com.


 David Hunter's writing was the essence of this article, but his announcing must surely be notable as well.  I have not heard him in action but I am confident he is very good.     Bill Schnier

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