17 August 2010

prayers & thoughts, please.

this past weekend, i ran in the Spokane to Sandpoint relay, a beautiful race that takes a team of 12 runners on a 185-mile route from Spokane, WA to Sandpoint, ID. It was gorgeous weather, great to be back in Spokane (my college city, but I hadn't visited in years), and wonderful to run the race with such a fun team.

However, on Saturday morning, about 20 hour into the race, there was a terrible accident. While along a wide highway in Northern Idaho, a motorist heading east veered from their lane, across the other, and hit a woman and a young runner who were along the west-bound shoulder. During the night, runners could have pacers either run with them or bike next to them to help with running times and to increase visibility to traffic. The pacer in this case - a mother of one of the other runners - was killed. (News article is here). The driver has been booked on manslaughter charges and alcohol may have been involved.

Relay teams began in waves, and we started out at 8:50AM on Friday morning. Since the race is so long (our time was around 27 hours to complete), we got to know the other runners and teams, recognizing their support vehicles and their runners. This team was made up of high school cross-country runners and their mothers. Our team had been leapfrogging theirs and we were ahead of this on this particular leg (about 6:30AM). I saw the ambulance go by while I was waiting for our runner to finish, and I prayed it was not for a runner on the course. Over the next couple of hours, we got word of the accident, who it was, and the tragic death. The race - with teams spread over miles and miles of distance - isn't one that can be canceled, so we finished as planned.

Back at home now, I'm digesting. This situation is making me think about open-course races and their inherent danger, a danger I never understood. It's making me think of how random and tragic life can be. It's making me want to implore people to be aware of bikers, runners, and walkers on the road and to never drink and drive. It reminds me there is so easy answers or ways to ensure things like this never happen again. I haven't settled on some of this issues - like if I will do a race like this again - that will take some time. Meanwhile, I ask you all to keep those affected by this accident in your prayers.


  1. Oh Sarah. I'm so sorry this happened (and thankful that you are okay). I will definitely keep the family in my thoughts. Don't be afraid to talk to someone about this if you need to, or post about it to us here. Everyone is affected when something like this happens and it is normal and expected to be shaken up and to grieve. I'll keep you in my thoughts too. You are right, life is very random and tragic at times, hang in there.

  2. That is so, so awful. I'm glad you and your team are ok, but my heart goes out to the families involved in the accident.

  3. I'm so sorry to hear this tragic news. I'm glad you are ok, that you finished and I commend you for following through with such a tremendous challenge. You've got my thoughts and prayers.

  4. I'm so sorry. Not religious here, so I'm sending good vibes and thoughts to the NorthWest instead. But it is tragic, no? Chicago is a huge biking city, being so flat; and unfortunately, we hear about accidents all the time. When a biker gets hit by a car and dies, friends and family often put up Ghost Bikes: a bike painted completely white, and locked up at the exact location where the accident happened. What's scary is that I can pass 4 or so ghost bikes in a single bike ride and I'm so fucking ignorant about my safety until I realize, ohmygoodness, that could have been me. I haven't been on my bike in a while, but I made the decision not long ago that no matter what, I'm using a helmet from now on, even to go dancing on a Saturday night (and especially then, damn drunks). It's just too risky.


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