Apr 21, 2009

Professor Profile: Clark Zealand

by Kerah Kemmerer

 There is a reoccurring theme in the life of Sport Management Assistant Professor Dr. Clark Zealand — and it comes in the form of running.

Zealand, whose roles include that of husband, father to Coleman, 7, and Jessie, 5, Liberty professor, race director and avid runner was raised in Ontario, Canada, currently resides in Forest, Va.

He has an insatiable desire to continue his exploration of the United States, and so far has had the opportunity to visit Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park and Glacier, among many others. His closest brush with international travel took place once when he crossed the border into Tijuana, Mexico.

“I have a hit-list, if you will, of national forests, national monuments, national parks — of places I want to go see within the United States,” Zealand said. “I am actually planning a trip right now.

Zealand will spend a few days in California this summer for a race.

He currently participates in ultramarathons (marathons over 26.2 miles) and directs six races with Dr. David Horton in various areas around Lynchburg.

“It is my area of expertise, research, spare time and (directing races) sort of wraps it all together,” Zealand said. “I am very blessed to be able to do it all together.”

Participating in ultramarathons is a passion that pulses through Zealand’s veins and inspires his everyday life. Zealand has participated in over 40 “ultras” within the past 10 years. He ran several hard-core races after his undergrad including the Promise Land 50k, Masochist 50 and was runner-up at Vermont 100m (15:03) in 2004, according to an interview with Team Inov-8.

“I have been blessed to run trail ultras all over the country — west of the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevadas — lots of beautiful places,” Zealand said. “Whether it’s 15 hours or 24 hours, you get to see a lot of beautiful, spectacular country in a fairly short period of time.”

Zealand, his older sister and three younger brothers discovered Liberty through their parents’ dedication to the “The Old Time Gospel Hour.” He and his brothers attended Liberty on track scholarships. Zealand ran with the track and cross-country team for four years beginning in 1993. On his recollection of the first experience of coming to Liberty, Zealand said it was “definitely an adventure coming from Canada to Virginia.” He noted that he has quite a “thrill-seeking personality,” and it was “up his alley” as far as being an adventure.”

He also worked as a graduate assistant coach and a full-time coach for the long distance program for about six years. He and his wife moved back to Canada where he obtained his doctorate before returning to Liberty to work with the sport management department.

“As I ran more track and cross county, I discovered trail running,” Zealand said. “A lot of my love for trails and trail running grew into the interest to study it and understand the managerial side.”

Pursuing a degree in sport management always made sense to Zealand who said he wanted to be involved in the business aspect of sports. His area of expertise is outdoor recreation management.

“It actually goes hand-in-hand with what I do as an individual in my so-called free time,” he said.

The sport management department is in the process of introducing a master’s program with a specialization in outdoor recreation management. Zealand will be focusing on this program beginning in the Fall 2009.

“There is an active outdoor industry, a $700 billion industry that is just growing at a phenomenal rate,” Zealand said. “We will be having actual graduate students who are working on their masters degree who will also be working with Ultimate LU to manage many of the facilities and events.”

One of the biggest challenges that Zealand faces is a daily one. He and his wife were blessed with their seven-year-old autistic son, Coleman, who has so radically changed their lives in a “really special way.”

“He allows us to see the world from his perspective which forces us to change our perspective on a daily basis,” Zealand said. “That has also framed his sister, Jessie’s life in a very special way and puts a unique perspective in her world.”
Zealand pointed out that so many people are being affected now by autism, whether it is their own child or a relative, and even though it is not always easy, he likes to share with people that “there is an incredible amount of hope.”

Zealand and his wife run a home-based therapy program for Coleman and employ several Liberty students in the program. Funding is provided through Medicaid.

“We are looking for student workers for the summer,” Zealand said. “It will give the students a part-time job and Coleman will get the opportunity to interact with them as well.”

Zealand said they are looking for someone who feels open and energetic to learning. He and his wife do all the training so there is no specific need for special skills.

Contact Kerah Kemmerer at


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