Eric Hulst

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Eric Hulst
Personal information
Born(1957-11-28)November 28, 1957
Laguna Beach, California
DiedJune 21, 1992(1992-06-21) (aged 34)[1]
SportCross country, track
Event(s)Mile, 2-mile, 10,000 meters
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)Mile: 4:09.1[2]
2-mile: 8:44.6[2]
10,000m: 28:55.00[3]

Eric Hulst (November 28, 1957 - June 21, 1992) was a distance runner who specialized in various cross country and track events. Although most known for his spell in California's high school running scene and for a remarkable training regimen,[4] he also represented the United States in international competition and won the gold medal for the United States in the men's junior race at the 1976 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Hulst set multiple California high school records.[2]

Running career[edit]

High school[edit]

"He and Serna were perfect rivals. Hulst was rather stocky...Ralph was whippet thin...Hulst was a powerful, bull of a expected his spikes to rip pieces of Tartan track up and fling them in the air behind him. Serna was a matador, a graceful, elegant, smooth runner...They were Ali and Frazier, the butcher and the surgeon. It was a glorious time."

Stephen D. Isham[4]

Hulst attended Laguna Beach High School, where he ran cross country and track. Originally, he intended to play tennis,[5] but excelled in his first cross country season and continued from there, running the 2-mile in 9:04.6 (min:sec) as a freshman.[4][6] At Laguna Beach HS, his coach was Len Miller, who followed a high-mileage coaching philosophy typical of the 1970s and would later coach Hulst at UC-Irvine. Hulst is well-remembered in the running community for his high-risk training regimen. At the age of 15, Hulst logged 100 miles per week of training, and would often get up at 5:00 AM to run between 10 and 13 miles before classes started at 8:30.[5] His morning runs would start from Emerald Bay to Corona del Mar and back, and would frequently wear a 10-pound lead vest.[7] During the course of his high school career, a competitive rivalry ensued between Hulst and Loara High School standout Ralph Serna. At the 1974 National Postal cross country meet, Hulst placed second in a field of the best high school runners in the country, behind only Serna.[8] Arguably, his most famous high school victory was at the 1975 California Interscholastic Federation state 2-mile championship race, in which he finished in first place in a state high school record time of 8:44.9 ahead of Serna; both finished under Rich Kimball's record 8:46.6 set in the previous year's meet.[6] During his senior year of high school, Hulst was called up to the U.S. national squad for the 1976 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, where he won the men's junior race. As a result, he appeared in a picture on the cover of the May 1976 issue of Runner's World.[9] Inspired by Dave Wottle, Hulst wore a cap while racing in high school.[5] During that year's track season, he lowered his CIF-SS and state 2-mile record further to 8:44.6 at the CIF-SS Masters Meet and won his second consecutive state championship in the event.


For a brief time, Hulst attended and ran with UC-Irvine, whose team he helped to win the Division II national cross country championship. He was UC-Irvine's best finisher at the 1976 NCAA DI cross country championships, finishing in 34th overall in the men's 10K race.[10] However, he developed a chronic knee injury while running at UC-Irvine and eventually dropped out of college in his sophomore year.[1][6]


After having stopped running collegiately, Hulst made a brief return to competitive racing in California's road racing circuit. After notching multiple road wins, he made his last major race appearance at the 1982 Boston Marathon, where he finished in 28th place in a time of 2:20:23.[11]


On an unspecified date in February 1991, Hulst was walking out of a movie theater with his mother when he yawned, after which he could not close his mouth due to random muscle contractions.[7] He was immediately taken to the emergency room, where a cancerous tumor the size of a golf ball was discovered in his brain.[7] He subsequently underwent surgery after which 80 percent of a tumor in his brain was removed.[7] A teammate at UC-Irvine and former Corona del Mar distance standout, Brian Hunsaker, had contracted infectious mononucleosis not long before Hulst was diagnosed, and told the Los Angeles Times that he believed the volume of training he and Hulst did had something to do with it.[7] The remainder of the tumor was intentionally left in order to prevent possible brain damage from excessively invasive surgery. From the winter of 1992, Hulst tried alternative cancer treatment at a facility in Mexico, where his doctors saw noticeable improvements and a lessened frequency of seizures.[7] However, the tumor expanded aggressively a second time, and he died on June 21, 1992.[1] Laguna Beach High School's track facility was officially named after Eric Hulst in his honor.[12]


  1. ^ a b c Ludovise, Barbie (June 23, 1992). "Ex-Running Star Hulst Dies of Brain Cancer at 34".
  2. ^ a b c Gonzalez, Rich (June 9, 2012). "All-Time California Track & Field Records".
  3. ^ All-Athletics. "Profile of Eric Hulst". Archived from the original (via Wayback Machine) on 4 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Stephen D. Isham. "Eric Hulst and Ralph Serna". Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Sharon Hulst. "Running Shots (page 19A)".
  6. ^ a b c Eder, Larry. "Considering Eric Hulst". Archived from the original on 2017-06-11. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Barbie Ludovise (February 5, 1992). "Los Angeles Times: Class of '76 : ERIC HULST, Track and Cross-Country Champion : He's Going the Distance, One Day at a Time". Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  8. ^ [1] Dyestat Archive: 1974 17th Annual 2-mile National Postal Results. Retrieved October 27, 2015
  9. ^ Sharon Hulst. "Running Shots (page 19B)".
  10. ^ [2] NCAA DI Cross Country Championships (Official Results). Retrieved October 27, 2015
  11. ^ Association of Road Racing Statisticians. "Runner: Eric Hulst". Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  12. ^ [3] Szabo, Matt. Laguna Beach Postline Pilot: Remembering a track legend - March 23, 2010