Friday, October 5, 2012

Rememberences of the 2011 Chicago Marathon and William Caviness

The Chicago Sun Times published a story on the front page of their website yesterday, about dehydration and the marathon and the tragic story of William Caviness, a runner in the 2011 Chicago Marathon. Reading that story, quickly brought me back to that beautiful, fun morning and the tragedy that I learned of later that day.

It was the morning of October 9, 2011 and I was not running the Chicago Marathon. Instead, I was training for the NYC Marathon.  My friend Matt, who lived on Adams Street, invited me down to watch the Chicago Marathon in front of his apartment. That morning, I biked the half hour down to meet him. His apartment was just after the 13.1 mile marker (half way) of the 26.2 mile marathon.

Being a running nerd, I had brought my SLR camera and my video camera to record the sights and sounds of the marathon. I set my video camera on a tripod and let it roll and started snapping pictures of the leaders, and then continued snapping pictures of the hordes of the runners that passed us by. It was a picture perfect fall morning and got to hang out with Matt, his wife and their baby. We had a great time soaking in the whole carnival atmosphere of the event. We cheered on and high-fived the runners, calling out the names on their shirts.

Here are some of the random pictures I took of the rollicking good time runners were having during the marathon:

Matt, his wife and son



















After the last of the runners that I knew had passed by us, and after I had snapped several hundred pictures and several videos, I said goodbye to Matt and family, packed up my stuff, jumped on my bike and headed home.





A few hours after arriving home, I saw this story on the news:


William Caviness, a 35 year old North Carolina firefighter, husband and father of two, who was on pace to run a sub 3:15 marathon, had collapsed and died 500 yards from the finish line at the Chicago Marathon. He was raising money for the IAFF Burn Center.

After hearing the news, I went through my photos, searching for a runner with his bib number and found this one that I took of him only an hour and a half before he collapsed:

William Caviness just after the 13 mile marker at the 2011 Chicago Marathon

I was also able to determine that he was in a video that I took of the race. Click here to see the part of the video of him. (He can be seen at around 3:16):



By the picture and video, he looks like every other runner, having a good time, completely relaxed and over half way to completing the run like the other 30,000 around him. 

This year, I am running the Chicago Marathon. So, when I cross the finish line on Sunday, I will soak in the accomplishment and savor the moment. And later, I'll remember the images of a guy I saw out for a run on a beautiful fall morning last year, William Caviness.

Footnote:  William's goal was to raise $2,000, for the charity and after he passed away, his total went up to almost $20,000.  



11 comments:

  1. Yeah I remember that story from last year which was my first marathon. It's so sad because you would never have thought that would happen. He seems like he is in such good shape. I looked at his splits after and to see the last row empty...heartbreaking. Crazy that you actually got a photo of him!

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    1. Yeah, he seems to have been in great shape. Yesterday's Sun Times article even mentioned that he had recently run a 20 mile training run with the last 3 miles at 6:50/mile!

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  2. I remember that story. Its so sad that he died.Good luck on Sunday!

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    1. Yes, very sad. Thanks for the well-wishes!

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  3. Running is a vast community. When I was out the other day, a faster, albeit much older runner was going the other way. We nodded. Never met him, but we both understood.

    In a marathon, all runners, from the 2:04 guys to the 6:04 guys know each other. When I'm watching, when runners pass, I feel how tired they are. As 30K+ runners pass by, each one has a real life. Any of us watching in 2011 saw this fellow pass. He might've even been running side-by-side with the runner(s) we came to support. Humbling, to say the least.

    Consider sending pics and video to his family. To do so gently, maybe contact his firehouse and go through his old boss.

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    1. Well said about the running community. There are runners I see out everyday that I don't know at all, but always say hi to. I especially have great respect for the older runners that are still pounding the pavement. I hope to be one myself one day. Speaking of sub 2:10 guys, olympian Abdi Abdirahman smiled at me as we passed by each other along the lakefront trail in February. Good idea about sharing my video with his family. I'm confident that Mr. Caviness' family has probably seen it, as the link is posted on his facebook memorial page: http://www.facebook.com/captainwillcaviness

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    2. Just found this article about the whole experience from his wife's point of view. She must have seen him run by a minute or two before I saw him: http://www.suntimes.com/9957175-417/one-of-us-when-fire-capt-will-caviness-of-north-carolina-died-running-the-chicago.html

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  4. It's so sad to hear stories like that. My first marathon was the Detroit Free Press Marathon and the year that I ran three men passed away during the race. The Michigan running community was shocked, one of the men even owned his own running store and was incredibly fit. It was incredibly sad.

    Good for you for remembering William and good luck on Sunday. I hope you meet your goals and have a wonderful time racing!

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  5. Best of luck to you on Sunday...I know it's not likely that we see one another, but I will take this post with me in my heart. Thank you...

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  6. A sad reminder that anything can happen to any of us, and that life is short.

    Good luck tomorrow! I hope you have a great run - it's going to be a beautiful day :)

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  7. Wow. Just wow. It sends chills down my spine reading this and seeing the pictures. It really does put things into perspective and makes you appreciate just how incredibly tough the marathon distance really is. Cheers to you for honoring William's memory, I know his family would be so grateful!

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