Mississippi College

Hap Hudson Race Winner Michael Wright is Born to Run

November 14, 2012

Michael Wright loves to run, but he’s not nearly at the speed of Jamaica’s Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest human.

The winner of the Hap Hudson 5K road race in Clinton, Wright really isn’t overly concerned about being first at the finish line or breaking personal records.

“It’s all about lacing up the running shoes, hitting the road or the trail and enjoying God’s creation on foot,” says Wright, Mississippi College’s assistant director of admissions. “There is simply no better way to take in all of His creative power than in the middle of a nice, relaxing, easily-paced long run.”

For the record, Wright finished the Hap Hudson road race during MC’s 2012 Homecoming on October 27th in 18 minutes and six seconds. It was his second fastest 5K time and marked his second Hap Hudson triumph.

Sponsored by the Department of Kinesiology, the annual race starting at Cockroft Hall is much more than going from point A to point B like he does in other events.

Named for the beloved former Mississippi College coach and Clintonian, the Hap Hudson road race is something special for Michael.

“It is a race of friends. Everyone you see at the starting line is either a current student or an alumnus of MC or a friend of the college,” he says. “It is like a big family reunion, with a little three-mile excursion in the middle.”

Driving along U.S. 80, motorists often spot the bearded 28-year-old logging miles by foot in his hometown of Clinton. He pounds the pavement around the Christian university and stays in shape via long walking tours of the Clinton campus with prospective students.

Wonder what Michael’s thinking about on these long jaunts around town or at races like the Mississippi Blues Marathon?

“While running, my mind goes all over the place. I try not to think too much about any kind of muscle soreness or which joints may be starting to flare up. I like to think about what kind of smoothie I’m going to make and how good the Healthplex’s cold plunge is going to feel when I’m done.”

The Madison native takes time to pray and say thanks to God “because I get to run another day. Not everyone can say that, and I never want to take that for granted,” Wright said.

The admissions staffer began running during his senior year at Mississippi College with one of his best friends, Reed Nunnelee, who wanted to get in better shape. Michael proved to be his reliable workout buddy who kept him motivated during early morning runs around Clinton. Friends joined them and created a Chrestman Hall running club.

Next up for Wright and fellow staffers in the university’s admissions office in Nelson Hall is the St. Jude half-marathon in Memphis in chilly December. “It will touch your heart running for all the kids in the St. Jude hospital,” he said. Then it’s onto the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson and Mountain Mist race in Huntsville, Alabama, both in January 2013.

Asked to name his favorite runners, Michael didn’t hesitate. It’s Scott Jurek, the world famous ultra-marathoner and author of “Eat and Run.” Iron man Joey Poole is another on his list.

But there’s no need to be a running star to take up the sport. It’s a popular form of exercise that appeals to people of all ages.

“I love running because all it takes is a good pair of running shoes. No gym memberships, no expensive bells and whistles,” he says. “It’s as healthy and inexpensive a hobby as there is. It keeps you in great shape and is something you can do year-round.”

In addition, running is “a very humbling sport. No matter how fast or far you can possibly run, there is always someone who can run faster and farther,” Wright said.

Photo: Michael Wright

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