Running has given Thomas Morgan his passion, his professional career and his family.
Morgan, a former University of Kentucky All-American, will return Friday to the place where his love for running began when he runs in the 38th annual Bluegrass 10,000.
Morgan, who is also a former UK distance coach, has not run in the race since 2011, but the event helped spark his interest in running as a child.
"The Bluegrass 10,000 has always been an important race to me," Morgan said, "I remember running it when I was 10 years old and I won the 12-and-under division. That was my Olympics."
He raced in the Bluegrass 10,000 throughout his childhood and into his high school years.
Morgan ran cross country and track and field as a high school athlete at Lexington Catholic High School. He was a "late bloomer" who did not become an All-State runner until he was an upperclassmen.
His wife, Allison, was also an All-American at UK in both track and field and cross country. They met at the university, and were together through college. She followed him to Team ZAP Fitness, a professional running team located in the mountains of Western North Carolina, and they married in 2010 after Thomas retired from professional competition.
"This sport has been good to me in many ways," Morgan said.
At UK, Morgan was a two-time All-American in the distance medley relay in 2001 and 2003. He was also a five-time All-SEC performer, twice in cross country, once in indoor track and twice for outdoor track. He was a seven-time NCAA Championship qualifier as well, twice in cross country, three times in indoor track and twice during the outdoor season.
After he retired, Morgan took the distance coaching job at UK and continued to coach until then-head coach Don Weber retired in 2012.
He has not raced professionally for four years now, but his optimism and his competitiveness has lasted.
"It (winning the race) is definitely my goal, but you never know who will show up to such a big-time race," Morgan said.
That includes Allison, who is deciding between the Bluegrass 10,000 or The Great Buffalo Chase 5K in Frankfort. She had not pinned one down as of Wednesday.
The Great Buffalo Chase 5K has prize money up to $3,000, while the Bluegrass 10,000 offers prize money up to $500 for the winning runners in each group.
Allison Morgan finished 14th in the U.S. Half Marathon Championships in January, continuing her career as a professional runner. The Morgans have two young children.
"We're really blessed to be two elite runners, and now we get to continue our lives together with our family," Thomas Morgan said. "And I still try to keep in shape somewhat, so that these events are a possibility for me."
Nick Gray: (859) 231-1330. Twitter: @ngray_63