Honoring an athlete

Our club recently lost one of it’s founding members.  A life cut too short.  A strong heart silenced.  A good friend to many in the group, to the sport of triathlon and to many others.

I never got the chance to be introduced to the man they call Kona.  I came in just as he moved away for a while and though I may have seen him, I never met him.  But I could see on the faces of those who knew him that he was special and is bitterly missed.

I am usually not one for memorials or tributes.  Mostly because I am awful at controlling my emotions and I get embarrassed because I tear up and feel sad even though most of them have nothing whatsoever to do with me.  I guess I just hate to see people hurting.  These are some of the strongest people I know.  So to see them reduced to tears frustrates and angers me because I know there is nothing I can do.  They will have to heal.  And I will never truly understand.

When the club announced that they would be doing a memorial run to honor the life of Kona, I debated whether I should participate.  Not because I didn’t care, but because I didn’t feel like I was a part of the club enough to be of any use.  I thought a lot about this.  Finally, I decided that I would run.  But not so much to honor someone I didn’t know, rather to honor the people who knew him and the club that he helped create.  They (his friends and club members) needed support as well.  They needed to see that we (newer members) support them and believe in the same things they believe in.  They also needed to see that what Kona and the rest of the founding members created is now far bigger than one person.  That it is strong and full of the next generation (or two) who believe what they believe.

So, for Kona, I ran today.  I ran as hard as I could.  I ran the fastest 6.5 miles I have ever run.  Because, from what they tell us, that is what he wanted and that is how he lived.  I think this is also a good synopsis of what this club expects.  Go hard, do your best, leave everything on the course.

There is now a bell (I’m not sure how permanent it is) hanging on a sign at the Forum entrance to the MKT trail in Columbia.  When we got done we were asked to ring it in his honor.  If you ever run here, you should to.


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