'That could be me:' Black elite marathoner says Ahmaud Arbery case hits close to home

Formerly a cyclist, Michael Dwomoh didn't even start running marathons until his late 30s. Now 50, he's an elite level age-group marathoner with a personal best of two hours and 37 minutes.

It started with his old job in Research Triangle Park, where he found himself gazing out his office window at the abundant trails.

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"So I bought a pair of running shoes, a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and said 'yeah let me try this. This is very easy.' And then I got hooked," he said.

That level of performance obviously requires miles and miles of training, miles often spent in areas where he isn't an immediate neighbor.

"I'm a bit of an adventurer. Wherever I travel I must run. If a new building is coming up I must go check out a new neighborhood. My goal is never to go to the same place twice."

Dwomoh has chosen not to view the video that shows the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery but he's well versed in what happened.

"That could be me. Some friends actually called and said, you know, 'did you see that? We were thinking about you when we saw that video,'" he said.

Daniel Elliott is a friend and frequent training partner of Dwomoh's.

"When I learned about it, I called Michael and we were chatting about it and we just kind of talked through it and I tried to hear him."

Elliott was already aware of Michael's different experiences on the roads, having talked about them many times during their runs. The video brought that reality far closer to home.

"He and I will be out running and we'll run past Confederate flags. If I'm out running alone, that's a much different thing for me to run past that than it is for him."

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Dwomoh has had a number of running run-ins over the years, but one especially stands out.

"There is an abiding memory, and I don't know why the time stuck in my mind. I was running out somewhere, 6:19 a.m., this car comes, it comes, it comes and I'm thinking, this guy is going for me. Okay, he's gonna run me down and then I hopped into the hedge."

Beyond just being aware of his surroundings, Dwomoh is constantly observing during his runs, out of necessity.

"Yes, my antennas are up. People who might not want to see me in the neighborhood, dogs who might not like the look of me or trying to chase me down or cars that might not be paying attention, or even the ones that are paying attention but are driving too close. All of the above."

Michael is not going to stop running and he's also not going to stop believing in most people's better nature.

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"There is someone out there who loves me and there is someone out there who hates me, for whatever reason, but in both instances, I'm going to try and run out of trouble. You know, literally run out of trouble... and and pray for the other guy," he said.
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