Wednesday, February 12, 2014

David Fielder; MRA Hall of Fame Inductee

Lean Horse 100 Mile Ultra Marathon 2013

Congratulations to David Fielder, John Murphy, and Dwayne Sandal for their acceptance into the Manitoba Runners' Association Hall of Fame. These three runners do us proud! Please join us at the banquet on March 31.  Visit the MRA web site for more information (see sidebar).  

The following is the submission for David Fielder, a collaborative affair between five runners that know well David's insatiable spirit for running.  I think we captured his spirit rather well; would you not agree?

To whom it concerns;

David Fielder meets or surpasses the criteria for the Manitoba Runner’s Association, Athlete/Builder Award.  This nomination was written in consultation with five individual runners who know David well and can attest to his strength of character, his running achievements, and his ability to build community.

David the joie de vivre Runner

David Fielder is an extraordinary runner on many levels.  His passion for running is unparalleled, his joie de vivre while running is entirely contagious, and his running achievements are many and significant.  To know David is to admire him, but to run with David is to find answers for that ever-elusive question, why do we run. Running with David, whether it is a 10-k fun run or an ultra-marathon, brings out the best of all those fortunate enough to run in his path.  If there were ever an ambassador for our community, it is best exemplified in David Fielder.

David the Numbers Runner

David has run in excess of 90 marathons, 10 ultra-marathons (five of which were 100-mile ultras), and countless half-marathons, and 10-k and 5k events.  His marathon PB is 3:43 and he was one of only 17 runners to complete the 2013 Lean Horse Ultra 100 miler in less than 24 hours with an astounding time of 23 hours, 17 minutes.

David the Selfless Runner

Although time is important to David, it pales in comparison to his desire to help others succeed in achieving their desired time.  A friend said recently “David could be an elite runner if he wanted to, but he sacrifices his own run to help others”. This comment rings true to me personally. I recall running the Minneapolis Marathon with David and my energy flagging at mile 22.  I slowed while he maintained a rock solid pace. He weaved through the throngs of runners and soon he was out of sight.  I gritted down and trudged ever forward, alone and hurting, but determined to finish! 

Initially, I barely noticed the faint cheers… go Mike go, go Mike go, go Mike go  Soon they became more pronounced, louder, and building in feverish intensity.  I was confused. Go Mike go?  Are they cheering for me?  Who even knows my name on this course?  And then David’s unbridled grin came into focus like a full moon on a starry night. There was David at mile 23 leading a group of teen-volunteers in this crazy chant. Fist bumps and high fives abounded…. it was all too much.  With eyes watering I didn’t cross the finish line, I soared over.

Ever the selfless runner David had sacrificed his time to organize a group of strangers to cheer me forward, to encourage me, and to give me the strength to persevere. My story is not unique; many runners have a similar story of David’s selflessness. For David, the race isn’t about his success; it’s about helping others achieve their success.  With humility, humor, and grace, David exemplifies the values and virtues of a selfless runner.

David the Volunteer Runner

David teaches grade 8 at a middle school in the Interlake School Division.  He is an exemplary teacher in many regards including his dedication towards coaching.  Currently David coaches the school cross country run team, track and field team, and basketball team.  He is well loved by the many students he has coached. Over the years he has encouraged countless young people to unleash the personal excellence that lies within.

David has also volunteered at numerous races as a pacer.  His groups are known for having a lot of fun on the course, but also for achieving the designated time.  He has helped countless novice runners experience the thrill of completing their first half or full marathon.

David the Passionate Runner

David brings a passion to running that is unprecedented.  He understands that without goals we have no baseline from which to improve or grow.  Several years ago he set a goal to run 100 marathons. He is well on his way to achieve this goal although he rarely speaks of this incredible success.  When asked to elaborate he’ll give a vague answer as if embarrassed and skillfully turn the conversation back your successes. 

In May 2011 David ran a sub-four hour marathon in Brainerd Minneapolis.  The conditions were brutal; the wind, the cold and the rain colluded to make this marathon one for the memory book.  Immediately following the race he returned to Winnipeg through blizzard conditions only to arrive at a closed border station. Napping in the car until the border opened, he arrived in Winnipeg at 5 AM after having driven 584 kilometers. He managed a one-hour catnap before slipping the kicks back on and dashing off to the Police Half-marathon by gun time.  He ran a sub-two hour Police Half on one hour’s sleep after having completed a sub-four hour marathon less than 24 hours earlier. All this was accomplished in blizzard conditions and frigid wind chill. 

David has completed all Fargo Marathons. For many years he ran Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota and the next day run Manitoba Marathon.

David the Spirited Runner

David has organized a little know annual run called the Slurpee Dash.  He and several other equally spirited runners plan a route through Winnipeg that includes a rest stop at all twelve 7-11 Stores.  The intent of this run is to have fun while piling up serious miles over the course of the day while training for ultras.

On particularly hot marathons David has been known to stop for a Slurpee at 7-11 Stores along the course and continue running with Slurpee in hand.

David is well known for showing up on race day in costume.  His collection of costumes includes tutus, Waldo, Superman, Sponge Bob, escaped Keystone convict (for the Cops Run), and firefighter (for the Fire Paramedic Run) to name but a few.  The costumes bring levity to the races and are much loved by spectators, volunteers, and runners.

David laughs and sings while running marathons and constantly engages with spectators and runners alike.  He thanks the volunteers profusely and earnestly and makes them smile and feel good about their volunteerism.  I recall one marathon at mile 24 where David had us laughing to such an extent a fellow runner said her mouth hurt from laughing so hard. Laughing at mile 24!  That’s David.

David has been known to stash coolers containing cold drinks along the course of hot weather marathons and then surprise his running buddies with ice-cold drinks just when it’s needed most!

A friend says it best, “David brings a crazy kinda energy to all races.”

Why should David be honoured with this prestigious award?

In the end all we have are cherished memories of running.  The medals we once revered lose their shine and become tangled webs in cardboard boxes. The tee-shirts we proudly wore become faded and obsolete. The bibs become torn, frayed... meaningless. The seconds we shaved from PBs, once relished, become irrelevant in the mists of time. 

What matters most in the end are the memories of running. We remember the moments created and the lives lived.  We remember the laughter and we remember the pain. We remember the people that inspired us to soar over the line, to do our best, to believe in our abilities, and to laugh.  We remember the runners that dance over the finish line in a pink tutu with an indomitable grin.  

To run with David is to bank memories; memories to be visited time and time again.  These memories of running which we hold tenderly provide comfort when our legs fail, when our hearts slow, and when our passions fade. As we grow old the priceless memories of running sustain us.

I leave you with one such memory.  I paraphrase a memory of David from a friend:

I remember running a marathon with David. I was struggling badly.  He asked me if I could have anything I wanted, what would it be? I said jokingly “a Slurpee”. David - of course- went and found one for me and that marathon didn’t seem so bad. I’ll remember that forever. That’s who David is, the self-less runner.

I can think of no better candidate to receive this prestigious award than David Fielder, the man who weaves memories of running from sweat, build bridges from his passion, and joie de vivre from his insatiable spirit.

Fire Paramedic 1/2 Marathon 2013
It's a good day to be alive,

Michael Bennett

In collaboration with:

Melissa Budd
Nadine Linder
Gary Morris

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