Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Those of you in central North Carolina would probably agree that the weather this past Sunday (January 31, 2011) was perfect for outdoor activities. So perfect, in fact, that a man decided to take his kayak out for a cruise on Falls Lake. Sadly, he hasn't been seen since then.

My wife knows this man, because his daughter is in our eldest son's preschool class. The man was usually the one dropping off and picking up his daughter from school. And, my wife says that he almost always had a kayak attached to the roof of his van.

Reports indicate that several people in the vicinity of Falls Lake called 911 around 7 PM Sunday night, because they'd heard someone shouting for help from the lake. When the man's kayak was found the next day, his life vest was inside the boat. One may assume that the man decided not to put on his life vest.

So, now there's another 4-year old girl in the world who's probably lost her father, another wife who's lost her husband. And, if the scenario we imagine turns out to be the case, this man would be enjoying more time with his family for years to come if he'd only worn his life vest on Sunday.

I'm writing about this story here, because, well, it's been weighing on my mind since seeing the news broadcast Monday morning. My heart aches for this man's family. Something about the disappearance of a father of a kid who interacts with my kid four days out of the week resonates pretty strongly. My wife is pretty troubled by it, too. And, when she's troubled, I'm troubled.

The general connection between a kayaker and a runner is pretty obvious. Both are people who enjoy potentially solitary activities. That's part of the appeal, after all, for some of us. And, when out there alone, whether miles from a trail head or simply on the sidewalk early in the morning, it's difficult to get help quickly in an emergency.

That's why we take safety precautions to keep from ending up on the news. None of us wants to be the "jogger" who's found dead or comatose on the trails of Umstead one Sunday morning, because we thought it'd be fun to go for a run without dressing properly or bringing a light and a phone just as the park was closing.

(Think: darkness. Think: tripping on a root. Think: banging your head on a sharp rock. Think about the fact that there's no one else to save your unconscious ass from the sub-freezing temperatures until the park opens 12 hours from the time you fell)

So, foregoing the safety measures that common sense tells us to abide can be tragic. And stories like the one about the missing kayaker this week are blatant reminders of a need to pause. Pause to think about whether skipping basic safety precautions for the sake of convenience is worth it.

I'm going to remind myself to pause every time I'm tempted to run across a street in front of a car that may or may not stop for me. I've got my family to consider. I've got a lot to live for.

Safe and happy running, people!

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