On October 12, 1998, one of the nation’s best young distance runners died in a bicycle accident on Flagstaff road in Boulder Colorado. Chris Severy was 22, the oldest of six children, and far too young to die. It is hard to understand how in one moment life can seem so long- so full of possibilities and dreams, and in the next moment it can just end. Without warning and seemingly without reason, our mortality becomes real.
Chris was not only a great athlete he was a world class intellect. As a senior at the University of Colorado, Chris had earned a perfect 4.0 G.P.A. in Developmental cellular molecular biology andBiochemistry! He was working hard on his proclaimed life’s mission- to conduct research and one day find a cure for the cancer that had taken his father’s life only six months earlier. Chris was determined to turn the tragedy of his father’s death into something positive. He wanted to keep his memory alive by doing important research. But he would not have that chance. A curve in the road, a twist of fate, and an old tree prematurely ended his nobel crusade.
Chris was my teammate, roommate, and one of the best friends I have ever had. He was exceptional in every way and inspired me to be better. He trained as hard as anyone I have ever met and studied even harder. He was impossible not to like. Every time I reflect on his passing, I am reminded that life is short and that there is no time to kill- no time to squander on unimportant things. I wrote briefly about him in Running the Edge:
“Nothing brought the importance of this philosophy home to me more than the death of cross-country teammate Chris Severy in 1998, during my senior year at University of Colorado. Chris was a bright light. He was smart, caring, and talented. His future was perhaps the brightest I have ever seen. He was one of those rare people who seemed to have no limits. “Most likely to succeed someday” was an understatement for someone as remarkable as Chris. When he lost control of his bike coming down Flagstaff Mountain and collided with a tree, a light went out. All of his tomorrows and somedays became irrelevant. The world lost a better future without Chris in it. For Chris, there was no more time to kill. For the rest of us, left with his loss, we had to learn from this harsh lesson and had to change how we looked at our remaining days.
I know that Chris did not wake up on that October morning thinking it might be his last. This is not how life works. I have no idea when my days will run out, but between now and that time, I am determined not to settle for average, normal, or good enough.”
Chris’s desire to turn the death of his father into something positive is inspiring. Even if we can’t cure cancer, we can follow his example and try to find something positive to give back to the world in his honor and keep his memory alive.
About two years after Chris died I started an annual tradition with my high school students to help me deal with a loss I still didn’t understand. Each year on October 12th, I would tell a few stories about Chris and share how he died. I pledged, along with my students, that once a year we should set aside a day and let all the important people in our lives know how important they are, how much we love them, and how much better our lives are because we know them. It was a way to get straight with the world, resolve petty conflicts, and forgive wrong doings. I would remind myself, and my students, that none of us know when we will meet our metaphorical tree or have our time run out. We are crazy not to take a few moments every year to get straight in our relationships, and make certain that the people we love the most, know how we feel, and that we appreciate them being in our lives.
Run the Edge would like to start an annual tradition to celebrate the memory of Chris Severy. Take a few moments this week to add some positive energy to the world. Let your friends know how much you appreciate them. Post a kind shout out on your facebook profile, send out a few emails, hand write a note or two, or make a phone call you have been putting off. Let all the people you care about know how much you appreciate them. You will feel great and so will everyone you contact. These are small gestures which can never make up for all the good Chris would have done for the world. But at least we can help his memory live on in positive ways. Celebrate “Severy Day” with us.
I would like to let all of my friends and family members know how much I love them. You are a source of constant support and inspiration for me. To the Run the Edge community and readers of this blog – Even if I have never met you, I am grateful for your support and encouragement. To my wife Kara and son Colt, I probably don’t tell you enough that you are my world. I love you more than anything! To Chris Severy- I still miss you after all these years. Thank you for the friendship we shared and the inspiration you continue to provide!
I am so thankful to be surrounded by amazing family and friends who have added more life to my days than I can quantify. I love all of you! To my fiance’ Laura, you are the love of my lifeTo my former students and the athletes I coached – know that I learned more from you over the years, than you ever did from me! You have shaped my life and the person I am today! To the friends I have yet to meet – I love you too and look forward to our adventures together! To Chris – The things you would have done for this world can never be replaced, but you live on in the hearts of everyone who knew you and you inspire people you never had the chance to meet. I hope you and your father are smiling.
In honor of Chris Severy, and his desire to do cancer research, we are donating $3.00 for every copy of our book sold from this site between October 12 – 19 to “Team in Training” to support cancer research. The first 50 people to order will also get a copy signed by both Adam and Tim.