Former Olympic runner considered “inspiration” to western Michigan community

GRAND HAVEN, Michigan – A former Olympic runner is remembered for his impact in western Michigan.

Paul McMullen died Thursday in a skiing accident at Caberfar Peaks, near Cadillac.

“A numbing shock,” said Lindsay Delorme, a close friend of McMullen’s, who has coached alongside him for the past several years. “People are still trying to deal with it.”

According to the resort, McMullen was an experienced skier, but lost control and collided with a permanent snow tower.

Born in Cadillac, McMullen attended Eastern Michigan University where he became one of the nation’s top middle distance runners. The eight-time NCAA All-American set school records that still stand to this day. In 2003, he was inducted into the university’s Sports Hall of Fame.

In 1996, McMullen competed in the 1,500m at the Atlanta Summer Olympics. In his nine-season professional career, he has completed a four-minute mile 42 times.

“Anyone who knows him loves him,” Delorme said. “An incredible personality; he is so positive and uplifting, motivating, [an] inspiration.”

McMullen eventually moved to Grand Haven in 2002 where he served in the United States Coast Guard until 2005.

In recent years, McMullen has started Chariots of Fire, a children’s running club in western Michigan.

Delorme coached one of his five chapters and says McMullen has shaped hundreds of athletes.

“He would just do all kinds of different things with these kids with sleigh type workouts, tracks, hills and dunes,” Delorme said. “These children love him and he loves them. I mean family; they are like a family.

McMullen joined Grand Rapids-based multisport team Stellafly in 2020. He is survived by his wife, Nuria, and three children.

“He’s an Olympian in every aspect, not just in competition and racing, but just in the way he looks and behaves; just that Olympic spirit, ”said Delorme.

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