In the summer of 2001, my family and I relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area of California from Arizona. During my first few months there, I was like a kid in a candy store exploring all the amazing trails of the East Bay and meeting many of the luminaries of the sport from those days. In October of that year, I ran the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Mile that took place in the East Bay Hills and at the time was directed by Ann Trason and Carl Andersen. Hanging around after the race, I felt like I was in the midst of a who’s who of Bay Area ultrarunning.
While sitting around after the race on that beautiful October afternoon, a friendly looking guy with a wonderful British accent came over to me and introduced himself, “Hi, I am Barry Fisher, are you new to the area?”
“Yes, I just arrived this past summer, are all the ultras around here this great?” I replied.
And from there Barry and I launched into a 30-minute conversation about running, the local ultra scene, and life.
Earlier this week, I received the news that Barry Fisher passed away peacefully in his sleep due to complications brought on by Parkinson’s disease. He was 76.
During the five years I lived in the Bay Area I don’t think there was a single ultra that Barry didn’t attend. He was seemingly everywhere. He ran a handful of ultras every year but where Barry seemed to thrive was as a volunteer. At start/finish lines, aid stations, and at random points along race courses, Barry was always there with a hearty greeting and a warm smile. He was one of those guys who just made you smile when you saw him. I distinctly recall chatting with him at the Michigan Bluff Aid Station during the Western States 100 when I stumbled in there in the insanely hot year of 2006 and he said, simply, “You’re going to earn your finish this year!”
Barry and his wife of 40 years Lucinda were featured prominently in the 2002 documentary film “A Race for the Soul” which documented the 2001 Western States 100. Fisher, a cancer survivor, was a four-time finisher of Western States and Lucinda became known as the runner who came oh so close. She attempted to finish Western States eight times, once coming as close as mile 96 before falling short of the cutoff. Hearing Barry speak in the film about Lucinda’s fortitude is inspiring!
The world needs more people as genuinely kind and generous as Barry. In death, he has left a reminder to our beloved ultra community that a little goes a long way. A loving smile, a gentle pat on the back, or an encouraging wave can make a big difference in a person’s day whether they are walking down the street or running 100 miles through the heat of the Northern California canyons. To me, those things are a big part of Barry’s legacy to us all.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California. This iconic brewer has introduced their first stab at a hazy IPA with their new Hazy Wonder. A light and hoppy blend, Hazy Wonder is a refreshing new take on this saturated variety. It’s well worth a try the next time they are available where you live.
Call for Comments
Kindly leave your memories of Barry Fisher in the comments section. Thank you.