A Man for All Seasons
In my cloudy memory, I carry the really, really heavy ball into the circle, intending to hurl it 70-some feet from my doughy body. I put the shot under my neck, twist and turn my body, and throw it as far as I can. It lands on my foot.
Track is not my forte.
But it is for Dan Foran, one of the fastest men in Delaware track history. Whether at Mount Pleasant High School in Wilmington, Virginia Tech, or the Gay Games, Dan set record after record. Running in nearly all categories, he demolished competitor after competitor.
As I sit in the tiny studio where he lives part-time, he sits across from me, lean and lithe, his physique belying the fact that he no longer runs competitively. He still jogs, bikes, and swims, but he no longer strives to move faster than those around him.
In 2020, Dan was inducted into the Delaware Track & Field Hall of Fame. Because of the unforgiving nature of COVID, he didn’t have a ceremony to fête him. That intentional oversight was more than made up for this last month, when the Class of 2020 joined with the Class of 2021 to celebrate elite Delawareans that have advanced track and field and cross country.
One of the things that made this honor special was the Hall of Fame’s acceptance and recognition that Dan is gay. In their official biography of his running career, they included, “(he) won three gold medals at the Gay Games…winning the award for Most Outstanding Performance in Men’s Track & Field.” In a sports world that isn’t always known for its tolerance for diversity, Dan found their acceptance of all of him very meaningful.
How does an athlete this excellent start out? In Dan’s case, it began at Mount Pleasant High School in Wilmington, Delaware. In his 10th-grade year as a Green Knight, he signed up for cross country. At the end of the school year, Dan started seriously training for the first time and the rest is history (see sidebar). At Virginia Tech, he was awarded a scholarship his sophomore year, and kept running to All Conference in 1985, and team MVP in 1988.
Even after he left school, Dan kept running. He won the 1992 Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in snow, sleet, and wind. Only five winners had ever run it faster. He also finished fourth in the 1996 Philadelphia Marathon. When asked why he kept running competitively after school, he said, “I had been running 100-mile weeks for several years.” So, he kept running. Then one day, he decided that he had accomplished everything he had wanted since his younger days. He went out on top.
How did Dan end up in Rehoboth part-time? Like many others, his family had a place down here—in the summers, he would wait tables for a living. When he was younger and straight, he lived in Dewey. He came out when he was 31, and found himself in Rehoboth. He also has another family tie here. Dan lost his father when the elder Foran jumped into the surf to rescue several people caught in a riptide. He died; they didn’t. In gratitude, the survivors put a bench in Grove Park in his name. Dan told me to visit sometime. It’s quite a story.
After all these accomplishments, I found out that there’s something Dan can’t do. At his Hall of Fame ceremony, he was asked to give a speech. In his own words, “it’s not my forte!” He killed it, though. If you know anything about Dan, you know that he works and works to get things right. Whether it’s a gay man in the world of sports, a runner gliding in the snow and sleet, or a son putting a father to rest, Dan can do it all. This lean and lithe man before me in his tiny living room is truly a man for all seasons.
In my dream, the shot is still on my foot. I wake up, only to find that the pain I feel is gout. I’m no Dan Foran. Then again, who is? ▼
— College —
Member of three Metro
Collegiate Athletic Conference championship teams
Won the Delaware Open
Cross-Country Championship in Brandywine Creek
Virginia State outdoor
— After College —
Won 1992 Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in snow, sleet, and wind
Finished fourth in the 1996 Philadelphia Marathon
— The Gay Games —
Won three gold medals at the
Gay Games in 1998—at 1500, 5000, and 10,000 meters
Won award for “Most Outstanding Performance in Men’s Track & Field”
Michael Gilles is a playwright, actor, and director from Milton, and a regular contributor to Letters from CAMP Rehoboth