Saturday Sports Buffet: On-road assistance

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, December 10, 2016

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Providing a Helping Hand

PROVIDING HELPING HAND – Veteran runner Shannon Puphal assists a runner during a race as a member of Race Guards. Puphal, who is the marketing and communications director at Wise Health System, will be on the course with the group Sunday at the Dallas Marathon. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Several years ago completing one of her many marathons, Shannon Puphal spotted a fellow runner struggling along the course.

“We were about mile 22 and he started weaving in front of me,” Puphal recalled. “I knew something wasn’t right. I ran up to him and grabbed his arm. I asked if he was OK and the blank face just stared at me. He was not responsive. He was pale and in bad shape.”

Puphal helped get him medical attention, but the experience left an impression on her.

“My first thought is a person can run by spectators or medical staff and no one sees them,” she explained. “I don’t think medical staff would have caught that person until they went down.”

Sunday for the 46th Dallas Marathon, Puphal will be on the course looking out for fellow runners not on the sidelines but on the course with the thousands of athletes. Puphal will join Race Guards, the team of certified first-responder volunteers that run the race and provide first aid to fellow runners. This will be the fifth distance race for the Wise Health System marketing and communications director to run with Race Guards.

“I love it. I’ve been running a long time and love the fact that I can give back,” she said. “I love giving back to the sport I love.”

Puphal will be among approximately 40 members of the Race Guard team on the course Sunday. All, which work in teams of two, are CPR certified and have working knowledge of AEDs. Multiple teams will run with AEDs in their packs.

National Team Director Tracy Kilvinger said most of their volunteers are like Puphal and get hooked.

“When I go into a new market, at first people are not sure about it,” she said. “They do one event, and they are hooked. It’s the feeling of giving back to the sport they love.”

In the first four events with Race Guards, Puphal has luckily only had to help runners with minor incidents such as blisters or chafing.

One runner she recalled helping was a gentleman with a prosthetic leg attempting to complete a half marathon and struggling.

“He was having a problem with his prosthetic,” Puphal said. “I was able to wrap it to help him so he could run a few more miles. I saw him at the finish. He was so appreciative.

“Most of the people you see, you’re fixing little things, but they are so appreciative.”

Puphal will carry a pack that includes bandages, pain-relief sprays and athletic tape along with various electrolytes and water.

“There’s a lot of things in the pack,” she said.

The Race Guards also all carry phones that have an app to record all the contacts they make with participants.

As of Thursday, Puphal did not know what distance she will be running on Sunday. She could be running a marathon or going a portion of the distance. She’s game for whatever.

“I’m not out there for a time,” she said. “It’s a different mentality.

“I know I can run whatever they need me to.”

During the race, Puphal said she will run a while with a group and keep an eye on the runners in the pack before pulling over to run with another group.

“Sometimes you pull over and watch runners go by,” Puphal said. “There’s little things that you can pick up on.”

Though there’s no time or medal on the line, Puphal said the same race-day nerves will be present.

“You still get the excitement. You don’t know what you are going to see,” Puphal said.

After the Dallas Marathon, Puphal will start training for her next big race as a competitor – Tri Fort Worth May 21. The two-time Ironman finisher will tackle the 140.6-mile triathlon that will come into Wise County during the 112-mile bike portion.


  • It’s been a couple of weeks since the final horn on the football season and it’ll be hard to top what we saw offensively from a pair of backs that are both under 5’10. Payton McAlister was the most impressive, turning in not only a 1,000-yard season rushing (1,693) but also finished with more than 1,000 yards receiving (1,044). The running back/slot receiver finished with 42 touchdowns. On nearly equal footing was the 1,800-yard and 20-touchdown season of Northwest’s Syrus Moore in his first season as a running back. Big things definitely come in small packages and could be big additions to programs on the next level with their versatility. They will also be hard to replace next year.
  • After committing to Iowa early in the year, Northwest’s Gavin Holmes will visit Nebraska this weekend. It’s not a big surprise to see several big programs vying for the receiver after making 83 catches for 1,545 yards and 15 scores.
  • Picking the All-Wise volleyball team this week was the hardest it’s been in seven years around these parts. The hardest task was picking setters with the talented quartet of Haley Griffin, Britton Petty, Morgan Abbott and Analise Lucio. With the four running the show, it was no surprise all made extended stays in the playoffs.
  • It’s an unreal start to the season for last year’s All-Wise basketball MVP Parker Hicks, averaging 30.7 points per game. He’s been even better at home, scoring 33.1. He’s only been under 30 points twice in six home games.
  • Hicks’ impressive season is approaching his coach Drew Coffman’s 31.4 average during his senior year at Midland Lee. Coffman, by the way, won his 200th game Thursday, hitting the milestone in nine seasons.
  • At 5-7, the Mean Green at North Texas is headed to the Heart of Dallas Bowl. While it’s troubling for a below .500 team to head to a bowl, it’s an opportunity a program playing a lot of sophomores and freshmen couldn’t pass up. No matter the score of the game against Army, the biggest benefit will be the additional practices for the young team.
  • The final regular season AP college football poll did not include a single Texas team. Unreal for a state with all the high school talent. Until someone starts playing defense, that might not change.
  • The University of Texas got its man, hiring Tom Herman. It was an impressive short run at Houston. Winning at Texas is a different animal and as evident with Charlie Strong, the leash is short and tight.
  • Back in August when news of Tony Romo’s injury broke, I was among the first to write off the Cowboys and with good reason. With a healthy Romo since the start of 2014, the team was 15-4. Without him, they were 1-12. A fourth-round rookie taking over for him, no one could have guessed this. I’m still having a hard time believing it. Also as the self-appointed president of the Tony Romo Fan Club, I wanted to see him have success after propping up a mediocre franchise for many years. Unfortunately, he’ll have to get his due somewhere else. This is Dak’s team.
  • Biggest wish for the Texas Rangers this winter, sign Edwin Encarnacion for first base. Second wish is to move Matt Bush to closer.
  • It’s been a while since, I’ve put this together. Maybe, I still have my dinosaur (Stepbrothers reference).

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