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Posted On May 1, 2014 By In Interviews And 759 Views

Shamalee Haliman

He is like a shaman. He runs purposefully and quietly, usually alone, though he has many friends who pass him at White Rock Lake, and either wave or say hello. Trudging in quiet solitude he continues, at peace with the world. You almost expect him to sit right there on the trail and begin an “OOMM” chant. But he doesn’t. He runs on as part of his approximately 30 miles per week. “I am a morning person. I start out before daylight and look forward to sunrise and the beginning of a new day.”

Shamalee Haliman is pronounced close to how it is spelled. SHAW-ma-lee HALL-i-man.

“On training runs, I enjoy the outdoors and talking to my friends.” He is, of course, one of the parade of personalities that DAVE DOZIER carries with him around the lake. Though they are a collective bunch, each has his own aura. “It’s a sport that I enjoy and know keeps me physically fit. I love it. It makes me feel free and releases me of daily tensions and pressures.”

Born in Curepe (also where he grew up), Trinidad in the West Indies, he is 76 (April 20, 1938). He has eight siblings. Many people make the mistake that he is from India or a nearby country. His grandparents are from England. They arrived in Trinidad after the English sent them there.

He remembers being 70 years old and setting his personal best at the half marathon distance. It was at the 2008 San Antonio Rock ‘n Roll Half and his time was 1:42:46.

Shamalee didn’t start running start until he was 47. “I lived closed to White Rock Lake where I saw many runners go by my house. I thought they must have a lot of time to waste.” Something can be said for some of the runners out there. Then his neighbor, LYNN MEYERS introduced him to the sport. Once Dozier got a hold of him, well,… “Lynn and David are the ones that got me started. Lynn got me to run my first Turkey Trot and David helped me train for my first marathon.”

Growing up shy, he has retained that part of his personality. It’s possibly from his hard upbringing, though not uncommon at that time. His father worked on a sugar cane estate. His mother died while he was quite small. “There were three of us: my sister, three years older, and my brother, one year older.” Their father remarried but that didn’t work out with the kids. “Friction,” is the word Shamalee uses. His sister, who was nine at this time, moved in with relatives, while Shamalee (six) and his brother (7) were left to fend for themselves.

“We spent endless days with friends by the river hunting and fishing. That actually provided many of our meals. Fishing, hunting, and climbing trees, mostly coconuts. We walked everywhere and did a lot of tree climbing. I was pretty much on survival mode during most of my childhood years. My biggest fear was staying out of trouble and providing basic needs.”

You can imagine this disrupted Shamalee’s schooling. He didn’t get much of it at home. In fact, he dropped out in the third grade. He later got his GED and earned an Associate’s Degree at downtown Dallas’ El Centro college. He majored in Applied Arts and Science, attending their culinary program, and studied food preparation and restaurant management. He’s worked at the Anatole the Fairmont, and the Mansion. Maybe you’ve seen him there? He’s quite proud he earned his degree.

Not ungrateful, he remembers the people who helped him along his long journey here. He calls them heroes, people like JAN LANDERS (“Helped me get my first job at the Trinidad Hilton Hotel.”), KENNETH SQUIRES (“Helped move on to the Virgin Islands.”) and MARCO LEONARDI (“Helped me move on to New York.”)

But, Shamalee had a vision for himself of a future that lay ahead. “I wanted to leave Curepe in search of a better life. I was interested in moving to the city, Port-of-Spain.” (Trinidad sits in the center of the island and is 30 miles south of Curepe. The island of Trinidad is approximately 10 miles from Venezuela. Curepe is an important transportation hub. Port-of-Spain sits northwest of Curepe on the coast.)

On September 11, 1971 he married Tomassa (Tommie). They met through one of Shamalee’s sisters. Together they have one daughter, Erica Chorley. “I am happy that I have inspired my family to run and strive to stay fit. I feel that exercise, whatever type, should be an important and consistent part of everyone’s life.”

His very first race was The 2002 Downtown Dallas Turkey Trot. He ran the entire eight mile course in 1:00:34. Today his favorite race is the Boston Marathon, “because of so much public support throughout the race.” Other races he’s run and likes are Tour de Fleur, and the Dallas and San Antonio marathons.

When Shamalee isn’t running, he stays busy gardening, cooking, reading (“Mostly running magazines,” he says. But he recently finished “Ready, Set, Go: Synergy Fitness” by Phil Campbell and “Tai Chi Ch’uan” by Donald and Cheryl Rubbo.), reading the business section mornings at the Tom Landry Center, attending First Baptist church, and watching KERA and National Geographic TV shows. A full life.

He looks upon the running environment in Dallas as healthy and growing. “We have many accessible running areas for training, and White Rock Lake, which is so beautiful and scenic. We also have outstanding running groups such as DRC, Luke’s, Run On, Team Leukemia, etc. I think it is very good. I think the support is good although there is always room for improvement. There are numerous highly competitive runners in Dallas. Luke’s, Run On and DRC all have outstanding runners.

He also says he always tries to eat healthy. “I stay away from junk food.” When eating out he goes to either Hook, Line, and Sinker, or the Whole Foods Prepared Food Bar.

Though he regularly runs with Dozier, he’s also out at the lake or at home running with his wife, daughter, and even his grandson. He’s influenced them all to take up the fitness regime. “We’re all at different paces and levels. But we are always out there together. The strength and value of family support. I have never run a race without one, if not most of, my family present.”

He runs with humility, royalty, and magnificently, reserved for people who have lived through all he has. His steady pace is a giveaway to identifying him at the lake. He says he is inspired by his fellow runners DAVE DOSIER, JOE GASPARI, JEFF GOOD, and his many Tom Landry friends and instructors such as SABRINA, MITCHELL, and NINI. But there is someone special who supersedes these people. MR. FAUJA SINGH is 103 years old and still runs marathons. (Singh’s marathon record, for age 90-plus, is 5 hours 40 minutes at the age of 92, at the 2003 Toronto Waterfront Marathon. In 2011, he ran Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 8:11:06. He’s been featured in ads for Adidas and Peta.)

Being aware of the clothes he’s wearing, he shops at both Luke’s Locker and Run On for running apparel and wears New Balance shoes.

All this working out for a 70 yr. old has taken its toll in the way of injuries. He lists off several of each of these: lower back, knees, and plantar fasciitis. Good grief! “One needs to listen to [his] body to avoid injury. However, it happens to all of us and we just need to learn to deal with it and keep going.”

Still…he’d like to race more. “I would like to run more shorter races and maybe one more marathon.” Right. What drives him? “The need to compete with myself.” He challenges himself while racing and running, wanting to finish every run strong. “I love running so I do not have much trouble getting started.”

His future athletic goals are to qualify and run Boston one more time. “I think about staying healthy and continuing to run and walk if unable to run.” His career goals are moot at this point in his life. Still, he would like to be “truly, not just theoretically, retired.”

His workout schedule is varied to keep him in shape.

Monday-Friday
workouts at Tom Landry

Monday
Upper body strength training, and spin for cardio

Tuesday
Lower body workout

Wednesday
Boot camp class and yoga

Thursday
Cross-training

Friday
Spin and yoga

Saturday and Sunday
White Rock Lake – walk and run

He continues his sojourn around the lake looking for insight in the sunrise and the people he sees, he meets. His run is still purpose driven though quiet. He is at peace. Morning brings life itself to his heart and clears his mind. He remembers all too much, but chooses to forget that which will do him no good. He runs on.

Chris Phelan has written, laid out, photographed, and published The Phast Times News since 2001. He’s crisscrossed Texas on his bike three times, swam 5 miles across Lake Ray Hubbard three times, completed three Ironman triathlons, and has represented the US in completion three times, and run with the Olympic Torch. He maintained All-American status for five years and has also biked across the country, 3600 miles in 30 days. The running/triathlon coach has PR’s of 2:27 marathon, 15:40 5K, 3:55 at the Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred, and 10:00:52 Ironman. Chris is the only person to have won overall and Master’s at Dallas’ Crosson Dannis road racing series, DRC road racing series, and the USAT/SMW duathlon series. In 1988 he began Dallas’ oldest track workout, 1998 started north Texas’ first treadmill class, and 2003 he founded the world-wide Ride Of Silence. He’s been twice nominated Master’s Road Runner of the Year, highlighted in a variety of magazines and is frequently asked to speak at camps and organizations about fitness. Outside of swimming, biking, and running, Chris has summited several mountains including Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro.