This is the second in a series of stories profiling the Class of 2010 for the Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame. Coming Thursday: Dan Kirkland Jr.
Greg Camp always wanted to be an athlete. He just didn’t know in what sport.
He loved baseball but knew early in life a major league career wasn’t in the works. He tried tennis but never got to compete in tournaments. Football, at his size, was a disaster, so he set about playing golf, something his grandfather and uncle had done professionally.
But golf was a spring sport, and Camp needed something to do in the fall of his sophomore year of high school in Kansas. On a whim, he tried cross country, winning a four-mile race on his second try.
Never miss a local story.
“I’ve really been running ever since,” Camp said.
The 63-year-old Camp, a member of the Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame class of 2010, put together an impressive career as a distance runner.
After becoming a state champion miler his senior year of high school in McLean, Va., Camp attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from 1964-68. He thrived as a three-year letterman in indoor and outdoor track and cross country (freshmen were ineligible for competition) and team captain his senior year.
He is the only middle distance runner from that era who still ranks among the academy’s top runners of all time.
Camp set the school’s outdoor record in the 800 and mile, marks that were not broken until the 1980s. He holds the school’s indoor records in the 880- and 1,000-yard runs, two events no longer raced. One of his relay teams still holds a record, the oldest on a board that hangs in the academy’s field house.
“That does feel good every time I go back, to go to the field house and see all the records from 2007 and 2008. They probably have some from 2010 now,” Camp said. “But when you see one that says 1967, that does feel pretty good.”
Camp qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials but had to miss them, having already received his orders for Vietnam.
It was then that he first came to Columbus, training at Fort Benning before serving one year in Vietnam as an infantry company commander and platoon leader.
After the war, he went to graduate school at Georgia Tech, where he resumed his running career. He already had exhausted his eligibility but still could compete in a few all-comers meets and a invitationals.
After getting a master’s degree in math in 1975, he ran for the Atlanta Track Club, where he clocked a 4:02 mile in a competition against renowned distance runner Marty Liquori.
“Most people that do running will tell you it gives you a high,” Camp said. “It gives you endorphins or something, a runner’s high. But I think everybody likes to do something that they’re pretty good at. And that’s the thing I did best.”
Camp later returned to West Point, where he taught math and served as an assistant coach for the track team.
The final five years of his 30-year military career were spent at Fort Benning. Camp and his wife intended to settle down near Atlanta, but a trip to a Columbus leadership program changed his mind.
“Honestly, I just fell in love with Columbus,” he said. “I thought I knew Columbus. I really didn’t. Met the most unbelievable people. … I went home and told my wife, ‘We need to retire here.’ This is home. This is the place. And we’ve never regretted it.”
Camp has been involved in the community. He is a committee member of the Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame and played an active role in the planning and construction of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center.