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Professor Profile: Walter Huddell

To the untrained eye, Dr. Walter Huddell may seem like the typical math whiz, but in reality, one will find that he always has a pair of running shoes on his feet and the heart of an athlete.

Huddell is commonly known for his duties as associate professor of mathematics, but he is also a skilled sportsman.

Beginning his career as early as grade school, Huddell developed a love for the competitive world by engaging in a wide range of physical activity with neighborhood kids, from riding bicycles everywhere they went to playing baseball in the streets.

As he moved into his high school years, sports became less of a leisure activity and more of an organized extracurricular.

Reminiscing about his childhood memories, Huddell mentioned that football had always been a favorite because of the “rigor and valued courage,” that was required for such a competitive sport.

But over time, a new sport has engaged Huddell, and it is one in which he has been heavily involved for quite some time. After participating in a triathlon during high school, Huddell never pictured running as something he would be doing later in life.

However, about five years ago, a member of his home church approached him with an invitation to run with him in the Broad Street Run. He accepted the invitation and has not been able to stop running since.

He now finds himself running four times a week. When the time comes to prepare for a marathon, the bar is raised to between thirteen and twenty miles, and the frequency increases to five days a week.

And Huddell has had his fair share of marathons.

“I run a marathon maybe once a year,” he said. “I ran Baltimore back in November and a 5K last week, and I’ll probably do Broad Street again or another fall marathon.”

And with all this running, he somehow still finds the energy to go bike riding and enjoy the occasional competitive basketball game with his fellow faculty members.

So what is it about a nice, brisk run that has kept Huddell going for the past five years?

While there are the technical things like the release of endorphins and the sense of accomplishment after a long workout, Huddell takes a unique perspective on his sport. Each run, although different, presents theological implications and point to something beyond running.

During Lent, for example, he found that running became difficult, and he used this as a way to reflect on the suffering of Christ.

“My mileage was up and my long runs became very long,” he said. “I was tired and sore; not that that is entering into the sufferings of Christ, but I can draw something from that and reflect on it.”

Come Easter, however, things began to change. “The mileage began to pull back a bit, and the colors outside were breathtaking,” he said. “There was just something of resurrection that I could see in the running.”

And is there a definite end in sight? Not from the looks of it. “I’d like to keep going as long as I can,” Huddell said. “Although I’m sure I must get old eventually.”

The future looks bright with the hope of more annual marathons and even the possible company of his wife, Alicyn, and twin daughters, Amy and Amber.

But for now, Huddell will stick to the math that he loves so dearly and use his running as a stress reliever, a time to focus on God, and a chance to embrace his inner athlete.

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