TSR Runner of the Week - Elijah (Eli) Long

By: Kayla Dodd

Congratualtions to TSR Runner of the Week Elijah (Eli) Long. He started running cross country a little over a year ago. He attends Sugar Creek Christian Academy, which at the time did not have a cross country team until a volunteer name Gina Lovejoy started a team. She began telling Eli's family that he was very good at running. He began running 2-3 miles a day, as a 9 year old, after school with his coach. Eli began to attend some of the local public schools cross country meets and he began placing in the top 3 and sometimes finishing 1st. He ran his first 5k last summer in Kenova! Eli's dad said, "As my wife and I sat there watching for the first runner to come in, in 19 minutes and something, to our surprise we looked down the long street to the finish line and there he was coming towards us and the finish line! He placed 8th overall and 1st in his age group with a time of a little over 22 minutes. Some of the public school’s coaches began to call and ask if Eli would come run with them and it was funny to me how much he just enjoyed running."

"Our world was slightly interrupted and life stood still for awhile due to the next part. On January 3rd, just a few weeks before his 10th birthday, he was coming home from guitar practice and had to stop and use the restroom 6 times. We checked his blood sugar when he got home, because I have been a diabetic since I was 7, and it wouldn’t even register on our meter. We rushed to the ER and after several sticks his blood sugar was 690. They put us in a EMS and rushed us to Cabell Huntington hospital where my son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. His first question after the doctor left the room was, 'do I have to stop riding my dirt bike or running cross country now?'"

As of now, everything is going great for Eli! His sugar is under control and he takes shots now. Eli's dad said, "He still rides his dirt bike but the running made me very nervous. What would happen if his sugar dropped while running, especially in long distance races. Well, he wanted to run in the Memorial Day race in Ironton, OH on May 28th, so we took him and signed him up and as we stood there before the race began I think I was more nervous than he was. I kept telling myself he would be ok and if something should happen, there were a lot of people there and it would be fine. I kept telling him that there would be people all over the race and if he felt bad and I wasn’t close by that he needed to stop and tell someone. He checked his sugar one last time and before I knew it, the gun went off and he was out of sight."

"As his father, I was suppose to stay calm but panic was setting in. I know what it is like being low, dangerously low. As I waited and watched the first runner come through the finish, the panic got worse but as I stared down that street, I saw this little boy with his SCCA cross country shirt on. He gave me a thumbs up as he passed me and started into Woodland cemetery. As the runners kept coming across the finish line and more poured down the final stretch to the finish line I began to get nervous again, then once again I saw this little boy in his SCCA cross country shirt come running down the final stretch and across the finish line. Eli was on his way the the finish!!!! We checked his blood sugar and he was fine and sat down and ate a apple. As we sat there he said, dad we can go, I probably didn’t get an award? We walked inside, mostly for the air conditioning, but also to see some of our friends to see how they did. He was sitting on my lap when they called out the first place kid in his age group, He said to me - that kid is is fast, then all of the sudden we heard '2nd place with a time of  25:53.9, Eli Long!'. He jumped up and I saw that look I haven’t seen in a long time. He carried that trophy all day, to the parade, to picnics, and it is now sitting on his dresser at home. He told me on the way home, 'Dad, I’m ready for the next one.'"

Congratulations to Eli on all of his future running journeys. Team TSR will see you at the finish line! 

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