Last Saturday in Vermont at the Craftsbury Marathon cross-country ski race, Dartmouth College junior Torin Tucker collapsed and died while competing in the 35k race. Torin’s sudden, tragic death has shaken the close-knit, cross-country ski community to the core and inspired many to come closer together in Torin’s memory.
I first met Torin when he came to the Community School in Sun Valley, Idaho for his junior year. I was the Headmaster of the school at the time and upon meeting Torin, I was immediately struck by his wistful smile, easy-going nature, and positive attitude. Torin was a staple on the Sun Valley Nordic Team during his time in Idaho and also an outstanding student/athlete. In his senior year, he was named one of two National Merit Finalists from Blaine County and upon graduating, chose to remain in Sun Valley for a year to train full time with Rick Kapala and the Sun Valley Nordic Team.
Torin was also an accomplished cross-country runner at Community School and a renowned running explorer. He often took to the trails with no agenda or plan and just ran in the mountains to see where his heart might take him. Often these forays into the woods led to epic adventures and more-than-occasional misadventures. Known for his adventurous spirit, Torin was never afraid to take on a new challenge.
Not surprisingly, Torin was born into the world of endurance athletics. Torin’s father, Scott Tucker, was the president of Montrail Footwear way back in the early ’90s. Among Scott’s many accomplishments with the brand was the establishment of the U.S.’s first ultrarunning team. Tucker, along with friend and Seattle Running Company owner Scott McCoubrey, brought together a talented group of runners in those early years that included such luminaries as Scott Jurek, David Horton, Dave Terry, Krissy Moehl, Ben Hian, and Ian Torrence.
All through these formative years, Scott’s young son Torin went along for the ride. Ultra veterans from across the country recall seeing little Torin running around the start/finish areas of such classic ultras as the Mountain Masochist, White River, and Miwok. Torin’s childhood was truly one forged in the hardscrabble trail running environment of the early Montrail years and it is not at all surprising that he embraced endurance challenges throughout his all-too-short life.
In the midst of the devastating sadness that all of us who knew Torin are feeling is the indelible memory of Torin’s enduring spirit. While it is, indeed, cliché to say that he died doing what he loved, in Torin’s case it is the undeniable truth. For any of us who embrace the endurance lifestyle and struggle through tough workouts and intense competitions, there is something more primal about what we do. And, in the end, it is this primal urge that is essential in making us more human.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from the Seven Barrel Brewery
in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Their RIP Stout
is a rich, dark stout that is smooth and long lasting. Best served a little warmer than most (perhaps 50 degrees Fahrenheit), this is one of the few stouts I have had that goes well with food.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
Those of you who have a memory of Torin Tucker with his father at ultramarathons, please feel welcome to share your story in the comments section of this article.