For those that never knew him, Mike Long was possibly the nicest, kindest and most generous man I ever met, in track and field or anywhere else. From the moment I met him, he gave me every chance in the world to be involved with top runners at Elite Racing events, simply because he knew that I appreciated it.
In the few years that I was lucky enough to call Mike a friend, I saw so many examples of his limitless generosity that I struggle to sort them all out. Whether it was digging into his own pocket to help an athlete out, or being the last one to leave the airport and miss dinner because someone's flight was delayed, he never wavered in his desire to make sure that everyone was cared for and felt included.
After I learned of Mike's death, I spoke to a number of friends who had all known Mike as I had, as a kind and endearing man with limitless energy and drive, and a boundless heart. He was a man who would give you the shirt off of his back without thinking twice about it. It was just who he was.
Like everyone else who knew him, I am very sad today. I am sad that the sport has lost one of its greatest treasures and one of its finest gentlemen. But I am also sad on a very personal level, because the friend that I thought would always be there, constant as his unrelenting smile, won't be there any more. It's going to be a very hard thing to enjoy Elite Racing events or beers at Rosie O'Grady's without him, but I knew Mike well enough to know that he wouldn't want us to stop enjoying the sport or our own company simply because he couldn't come anymore.
So, the best that we can do is remember Mike for the wonderful person that he was, and follow the examples that he set, for his thoughtfulness, generosity, sense of humor, tireless work ethic and his limitless heart. As I said to a number of people on the phone yesterday, to say, 'he will be missed' would be a terrible understatement.
We are all terribly sad that you are gone, Mike, but I know that we also feel so lucky that we could call you a friend. We miss you already.