Olympian coming to area event

It took less than 2 minutes, but it gave Clayton Murphy a lifetime of memories.

Murphy went to Rio de Janeiro as part of the U.S. Olympic contingent for the 2016 Summer Olympics. He ran the 800-meter run in 1:42.93 seconds and took home a bronze medal, becoming the first American in 24 years to medal in the half mile — one of the more grueling events in track and field. Johnny Gray finished third in 1992.

More than a year removed from his medal-winning performance, Murphy will be at Saturday’s The Legends Cross Country Meet at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds.

Murphy’s time of 1:42.93 made him the third-fastest American, and he earned Track and Field News’ ranking of No. 6 in the world and No. 1 in the United States. Only four American athletes have run faster than 1:43.

Murphy will be at the Fairgrounds a little after 9 a.m., and plans to stay until around 2 p.m.

The small schools division race at 11 a.m., with the large school races starting at 12:30 p.m. There are plenty of open and middle school races on both ends. Race director Ted Rupe said there are more than 3,000 runners scheduled for Saturday.

Murphy and former Beaumont standout Kate Radkewich Burkowski are this year’s legends, taking part in a race dating back to 2007.

According to gopherarun.com, the goals of the Legends are to:

– Offer the athletes a fast, accurate course with great competition and awards

– Honor the legends of the sport who will be presenting awards to the athletes.

– Provide athletes and coaches a link to Ohio’s great history in cross country by meeting The Legends of the sport.

Murphy and Burkowski are planning to distribute medals to race winners during Saturday’s events. Murphy is a professional runner for Nike and former University of Akron standout. He won the NCAA indoor titles in the 800 and 1,500.

At Tri-Village High School, a Division III institution that ran against the likes of McDonald and Maplewood, Murphy was a three-time all-state runner in cross country and track and field. He won the 1,600 in 2013 in a time of 4:11.72, which remains a state record.

Murphy left Tri-Village as the school’s best in four individual track events, two relay and in cross country.

At Akron, Murphy won all-Mid-American Conference honors 17 times and 13 conference championships in his three years with the Zips. He is one of only five Akron athletes to win an NCAA track and field title, and one of two with at least two NCAA titles.

He won the gold medal at the Pan American Games in 2015. The former Zips standout lives and trains in Ohio.

He’s not the first half miler to come to the Legends. Dave Wottle, a 1972 gold medalist in the 800 from Canton, came last year — a personal hero of Rupe.

This year, Murphy is going the distance and meeting some area athletes — giving them a chance to meet their running idol as well.

Get ready for the selfies.