Monday, I went running after work, came home, showered, sat & visited with my husband and a visiting friend, and finally logged onto my computer about 7 pm. The HR FB page told me that John DeWalt had passed away.
I grabbed my phone and saw that Bob had already texted me this, and then Slim called shortly, it seemed like we all found out around the same time.
John DeWalt was an ultra running legend. Part of the Barkley since the beginning, and 14 Hardrocks finished...just part of his resume. I couldn't even tell you what all he has done. Ultrasignup shows 65 "official" races.
I feel like my great uncle has passed away. No, maybe if my great uncle was also my friend, that could be true.
I had just discussed John in the past two weeks, with both Bob and Jim, and had sent John a card not long after HR this year, inviting him to come over to YUTC. Glad I had got that card in the mail, so he knew we were all thinking about him.
If you knew John, you already know about his reputation. If you didn't know John, well, it is a bit hard to try and summarize the man. There has been many nice reminiscences about John on the Barkley and Hardrock List this week. Andy Jones-Wilkins also wrote a nice piece for the global irunfar.com website.
Jennifer Roach wrote a really nice note that touched me:
"John DeWalt. Here was a wonderful man. Tough as nails. If you asked him a question, he always had a no nonsense, shoot-from-the-hip response. He would give out constructive criticism, whether requested or not. He was sure of himself. He had confidence in his advice, especially in runner nutrition. I asked him for advice frequently, as we all did. Once, I asked him how to avoid that spacey" feeling while doing long events like Hardrock . "Essential minerals. Put them in your water," he replied. I took the sage advice and it worked.
Remember John's 2009 Hardrock finish?As he approached the Rock, John was listing to one side and exhausted, but he never gave up or gave in. He just kept pushing. I also had the good fortune to finish Hardrock in 2009 and you don't see me cheering him on at that finish line because I was still BEHIND John and still coming in, pushing hard. I was able to get there because John taught me how to do it. I never gave up or give in. This advice will hold true for any runner who approaches that big Rock. To get there takes some real grit. That's the kind of stuff John DeWalt was made of and known for by everyone at Hardrock.
Hardrock won't be the same. We just lost a key player: John DeWalt. He was grass roots and the finest Old Guard runner I have ever known.
God Bless John DeWalt."