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Tony Mifsud
- By Doug Kurtis

02/26/04

Tony Mifsud is one of those people that every runner in the downriver area seems to know. Actually it more the other way around, whenever I'm with Tony, he seems acquainted with everyone on a first name basis.

Mifsud has lived in the Detroit area since moving here from Malta at age seven. When Mifsud runs downtown he is treading on home turf. He grew up in Corktown in the shadow of Tiger Stadium.

Success started early. His running career began in 1960 at Cody High. His 4:25 mile as a junior gave him the second fastest time in the state. Unfortunately, at that time the PSL teams didn't compete in the state meet from 1930-1960. They thought they had most of the states talent within their own area and preferred to compete amongst themselves. Tony found himself competing against Redford's Dick Sharkey and Olympian Lou Scott. During his senior year at the 1961 Cross Country state meet, Tony finished Runner-up to winner Dick Sharkey and the Cody High School Cross Country team finished ninth overall. At the 1962 Track and Field State Finals Tony ran 4:21 to finish 5th, behind winner Dick Sharkey in 4:13.2 for Redford High School and runner-up Lou Scott in 4:13.3 Eastern High School.

Mifsud's dad worked at Ford Motor Company and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. Instead it was a long road to eventually getting a teaching degree from Eastern Michigan and a master's from U of Michigan. Spring Arbor College offered him the opportunity to continue running cross-country and track. He was the National Junior College champion in his freshman year and led his team to a second place finish at the Nationals.

As one of the only catholic kids at the school he felt out of place. Plus he missed city life and weekend dances in Motown. He transferred to Henry Ford Community College and worked on the assembly line at Ford. That lasted one semester before he was offered a scholarship to Arizona State. Two Michigan Olympians, Hall of Famer Henry Carr and Lou Scott were on the ASU team. Before he got his spikes on the turf he was declared ineligible on a credits technicality. Due to the persistence of Eastern Michigan track supporter Bill Mays he quickly found another team to run with.

In 1966 he gained American citizenship and starred on EMU's cross-country team. That year the Cross Country team gave the university its first NAIA national championship in any sport. Life was going well. While in high school he met his bride to be, Jewell, and they married in 1965. Today he boasts about his three children and four grandkids. But an unexpected bump in the road was about to hit him.

In 1967, Mifsud was sitting at a stoplight on his way to work when he noticed a car flying toward him in his rear view mirror. The next day, he was lying in St. Mary's hospital paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors told him he might need surgery to fix a fracture in his fifth lumber. A discussion with a woman who had numerous surgeries to repair the same injury convinced him not to do it. The decision enabled him to run again, but not for another ten years.

The 1980's became the second wave of his standout running career. He set personal bests such as a 1:06 half marathon in Williamston and a 2:25 marathon in Philadelphia after disappointing race in Detroit just a few weeks earlier. Politics killed his chance to compete for Malta in the 1984 Olympics but not his passion for running. It led him to start the Allen Park Street Fair Run in 1977 which continues under his direction today.

Since his recovery, Mifsud has coached runners at U of M Dearborn, Henry Ford CC, Allen Park, Southgate and is presently head coach for the Dearborn Divine Girls Cross Country and Track program. He is also involved in several other major races in the Detroit area, such as Trenton's Zanglin Run, Taylor's Hopgood 5km and Riverview's Winterfest Run.

Mifsud name is synonymous with the Downriver Runners running club. Hundreds of runners who have come to know Mifsud's gregarious personality understand his motto, love life and life will love you back.

Contact Doug Kurtis at Detroit Free Press, 600 W. Fort St. Detroit, 48226

or dkurtis@earthlink.com



Doug Kurtis the former Race Director for the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Bank International Marathon is the world record holder for most career sub 2:20 marathons (76) and most marathon victories (39). Doug is a five time Olympic Trial Qualifier 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996. He was voted into the RRCA Hall of Fame in 1998 and Michigan Runner of the Year - 1985 and 1990. Doug coached two 2000 Olympic Trial Marathon Qualifiers.

Personal Bests:
26.2m - 2:13:34, 25km - 1:17:58, 13.1m - 1:04:51, 20km 1:02:37
10m - 48:33, 15km - 46:01, 10km - 29:44, 8km - 23:25

 



 


You can e-mail Doug at:
dkurtis@earthlink.com


 



Doug Racing at
Dexter Ann Arbor


 



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