Thursday, August 15, 2013

John DeWalt

Johnny D passed away last weekend, on August 11.

John was a beloved friend of NEO Trail.

Kimba, Bob Combs, John DeWalt YUTC 2009

To say he was an ultra marathon runner would be a complete understatement.  It would be hard to list all of John's running accomplishments.

If you didn't knowJohnny D, it would be hard to try and describe him and his repuatation.
To all that knew John, knew he was "The Man."

A note from Jennifer  Roach about John:

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.

Jennifer Roach

John finishing Hardrock in 2009 at age 73 his 14th HR finish

Rich Limacher has just featured John in his "Most Interesting Man of the World" as posted below.

The Troubadour

[At this sad time, we are nevertheless going to try and keep this particular Wednesday positive.  And my thanks to Allan Holtz for "nominating" today's hero--before any of us heard the news--but now that we've all heard it, I just know I would be honoring him anyway.  How could I not?
  My old buddy, hero, champion, and friend to us all, John DeWalt, passed away just this past Sunday.  He shall dearly be missed… by countless numbers of runners, ultrarunners, and good people everywhere who love legends.  I myself had known John--affectionately dubbed "Johnny D"--for many years.  My memories all flash at once. 
 For example, during those Barkley years when Frozen Head State Park would not hold camping reservations in advance, I took it upon myself to get there early in order to "reserve" (i.e., pay for on-site) the necessary campsites so that the race could proceed normally several days later.  Invariably, John DeWalt's large white truck-like van would already be there in Site #7 (next to the bathhouse) but, of course, he himself wouldn't.  No, he'd be "out there" running, hiking, scouting, practicing… and usually all day long.  When I would finally see him, either he or I would then pay for Site #12 (Barkley "headquarters").  At least one morning I remember waking up in time to be able to join him, and others, in just such a "practice session."  And he killed me dead.  He was, what, around 70 years old (?)--nearly 20 years my senior--and I could NOT keep up with him!!!  So, here's the "advantage" of practice over the actual race:  During practice John would **stop** (sometimes even sit!) to confer over the route-finding, but during the race he'd be GONE!  I'd never see him from after the start until he would get back to the Yellow Gate and (finally!) stop.
Others recently have reminded me of his vegetarianism ("How can you eat your friends?" he'd ask, referring to meat) and his ratty ball cap and his ZILLION Hardrock finishes and his age records at the Barkley and also (great story!) about how he once was arrested inside a restaurant--asking only for water--and jailed and sued and what-not.  Apparently no one--police especially--could believe John was only doing his usual 30-mile long run and had gotten a little dehydrated--tipsy perhaps--and fell over a few things (or spilled things) at the restaurant counter while only trying to replenish enough to continue his run.  Steve Pero reminds us that John spilled what he had all over the fancy electronic cash register, and THAT's when the trouble began….
So today (and in my mind, from now on) we honor John DeWalt as The Most Interesting Man In The World.
His obituary:
(Thanks to Mike Dobies for posting this.)
His running resumé :
(Go ahead and count his Hardrock 100 finishes!)
His Barkley lore is well documented here:
(See 2009 for, I believe, his last running there.)
A whole bunch of his terrific pictures (some moving!):
Here's a video of him grabbing his page at Book 1 of the Barkley for 2009:
(Thanks to Mike Bur for this, and the next two.)
Here he's at the famed Barkley "Yellow Gate":
And here John stands forever among The Giants of Ultrarunning:
(Left to right:  John DeWalt, Dennis Herr, and David Horton.)
Here's an exceptionally inspiring shot of John's never-give-up 2009 Hardrock 100 finish:
(Thanks to Blake Wood for snapping this, and to Jeb Burchenal for pointing it out.)
And this happens to be my own personal fave ('cuz I took it!):
And, of course, he's all over the place in here:
So rest in peace, Johnny D.  May you continue to "practice run" enough--now that it counts--to REALLY find the best route up and over Big Hell.]

The only thing older on Earth than the cap he wore forever on his head is Earth.

At a world-famous "impossible" footrace known for its "digitally-prepared" BBQ chicken, he refused to eat it.  Hence, he ran it better than everyone else for decades!

He once ran 30 miles one way in unbearable heat just for a glass of water.  He took a sip, then spilled it.  Then he ran all the way back.  It was all he needed.

During his racing career, he collected more "hardware" than Ace.

He won his first age-group trophy just after the Garden of Eden went into foreclosure.  He beat Adam in a men's race with Cain and Able.

He has out-run more than twice the athletes half his age more than three times the times that less than a quarter of them could keep up.

He used to "kick it" so well, so often, and so hard at Hardrock in Colorado that the mountains themselves would to beg him to go barefoot.

He could live for months on vitamins alone, and often run just as long without them--or sleep.

There never was a nicer guy.  George Bush the First got that "kinder, gentler" idea from him.

It's been said of his life that he was the first to show up, the last to leave, and the only participant ever to do the whole thing twice.


"I don't always run forever and eat only health food; but when I do, I predict it'll be in the next life.  Stay focused on the goal, my friends."

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