Sure, Oregonian’s have been running well since way back when there were still native trees in the state, but you gotta admit this has been a summer to remember. Maybe it’s because I’ve been here in this wonderful, quirky, not-so-easy-to-understand state on vacation for the past week or perhaps a bit of nostalgia is creeping in because I am married to an Oregonian, but, whatever it is, I must say I am inspired by the whole thing. And, as I pause, I can’t help but reflect back to one of my own personal, all-time favorite Oregonians:
The first time I met Dave Terry was at the Finish Line of the Western States 100 in 2001. I had just finished my first ever Western States and I was absolute toast. Dave was there hanging out cheering people on and he came up to me as I was slumped in a chair, grabbed my shoulder and said, simply, “Good run, dude. Pretty tough out there, huh?”
Then, three years later at Western States, I felt like Dave was leading the entire state of Oregon on an assault to beat me. I managed to hold him off and after he crossed the finish line he found me and said, once again, “Good run, dude. It was tough out there.”
Fast forward to 2006, the “hot year” at Western States. After all of the usual pre-race hype we finally got off the starting line and began the climb up Squaw. I found myself stride for stride with Dave and thought it was a good time for conversation. It went something like this:
“So Dave, you think the heat’s going to make this a rough day?” I said.
“Dude, this is going to be a classic! Mark my words, a classic! Epic even.”
And, of course, he was right.
Then, a few months later, I found myself stumbling out of Lamb’s Canyon at my first Wasatch. After about five minutes, Dave and his pacer, Scott McCoubrey, caught up to me and my pacer Leland Barker. Dave and Scott were bantering on about this and that while Leland was trying to help me through a particularly pukey part of my day. As we made our way onto the singletrack, Dave sidled up to me, took off his headphones and said, “Dude, it’ll get easier after this. Do this climb with me and then you can take off.” I’ll never forget it. A few hours later I finished my first Wasatch and Dave finished his ninth (with his tenth to come the following year). His words of encouragement still echo in my head from time to time.
In 2007, Dave finished his tenth Western States in perfect, laid-back style and, then, pledged to give back to the race by volunteering as a medical volunteer for the next few years. He did that, for the first time, the next June. That, too, I will never forget.
After my finish around midnight in 2009, I hung around the medical tent taking in the scene and begging Dave for an IV (He didn’t give me one, saying I wasn’t messed up enough. :-) Shortly before 1 am, Krissy Moehl finished and needed a bit of medical help. After a couple minutes of treatment, she had some sort of a spell and Dave was right there to respond. He jumped into action and cared for Krissy like she was his own sister. When the ambulance guys came to sweep Krissy away, Dave assured them she was okay in his care and that he had everything under control. Needless to say, the ambulance guys left and Krissy was better 30 minutes later.
The next morning, with problems of my own, I went over to the medical tent to talk to John Vonhof about my trashed feet. It was 11 am and it was pretty hot. I looked up and there was Dave, still working medical, still in his running stuff, still working to put runners back together a day and half after he had last slept.
In his last appearance at Western States, Dave Terry gave himself completely to the people and the sport he loved. He gave from his head and from his heart. He gave and gave and gave until nobody else needed him to give. Then, as he probably always did, he sidled off into the sunset with the Grateful Dead blaring and the memory of another great day on the trails behind him.
Ultrarunning brings together extraordinary people in extraordinary ways. The people who have chosen to find a path in this sport are truly the heart and soul of every event, workout and training run. When you decide to make running 100 miles through the mountains your hobby you tend to become more than just a person, you become part of something bigger than yourself and your actions speak louder than your words. Dave Terry was a man whose actions always spoke louder than his words and I, for one, will always miss him.
Last week, a day after arriving in Oregon from the East Coast, I went on a nice 7-mile run in Forest Park in Portland. I was there to pay homage to my friend and to finally, two years after his tragic death, bid him a last farewell. When I stood by his memorial with tears in my eyes on a typical grey Oregon morning, I thought long and hard about what a legacy this great man has left. And, in this Oregon Summer, perhaps we’ve seen a bit of that legacy shine brightly through the clouds.
Dave, wherever you are, I hope your trails are rocky and rutted and the hills are all steep. Just the way you like them!
AJW’s Beer of the Week
Call for Comments (from Bryon)
- What are some of your best Dave Terry memories?
- Is it too early to call this the Oregon Summer? Which Oregonians’ achievements have you most pumped?