Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I'm not sure about posting this. I'm not sure I have a right, really. I didn't know this guy, wasn't part of the race (though many of my teammates were), but it still makes me so sad.
Last weekend, while I was busy bemoaning my silly calf cramp and getting beaten by a guy in cotton, while many of the Tri Blog Alliance were out there kicking butt in their own races, a 28 year old man named Kevin Hunt drowned just 50 feet from the beach at the finish of a 500m open water swim in his first triathlon. His father was watching from the beach and heard him shout "Help!" and then go down. He came up once more and then went down for good. Neither his father, the kayaks, nor the 100 athlete human chain that formed to rescue him were able to get to him in time. He was an avid cyclist from High Ridge, the town I cycle to when I'm looking for some hill torture - he may have even been one of the many cyclists I've seen when out on that route. I just can't stop thinking about him, his race, his family and what it all means - if it really means anything.
We all owe a death. He paid his debt doing something he wanted to do, something he'd trained months for. I suppose there are worse ways to go. And the one hundred triathletes who were on shore waiting for their wave to start and launched a rescue attempt of their own say much for the people who make this sport their lifestyle. Still, this is haunting me - as I'm sure it is haunting many local triathletes, particularly us newbs. It seems selfish to make it about me but I can't help but admit that it strikes terror into my heart to think that this happened. My great consolation in the open water has been that I'm not going to drown. But it CAN happen, it DID happen. I'm sure it doesn't happen very often, and I know that people drown in pools and rivers and all kinds of places that I'm not afraid to go. So why does this scare me so much?
I suppose that those of us who crave challenges (triathletes, adventure seekers, etc.) are defying death, in a way. We shake our fists at that which we know will catch us eventually. It may be sooner, it may be later (we hope its later!) but we will not cower from it. Still, when its shadow passes over us, we cannot help but shudder. I fear for myself - but I also fear for the ones I would leave behind. Reading about Kevin's father standing helplessly on the shore, I thought of my own father, husband and son. What would they do if it were me that sunk into the abyss? I know they would be devastated but I think they would be angry with me as well - for putting myself in the position of being taken from them. Maybe that's what I'm ultimately afraid of - that stain on their memory of me, to be to blame for my own absence. But, really, life is dangerous. Driving in a car, flying in a plane, walking down the street - many people die everyday doing these things. So why the guilt for doing something the general public feels is inherently dangerous - which proves to be inherently dangerous occasionally?
In the meantime, Kevin Hunt's family mourns and second guesses and wishes for answers where there are none. Say a prayer or two or a hundred for them.
Post Script - Kevin's family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the LiveStrong Foundation in his name.
Posted by Larissa at 12:48 PM