I met Win at Yale as a freshman roommate – he was just 18, I still 17 We were sophomore roommates as well. It
was the sixties so I, of course, do not remember anything about those days – that is my story and I am sticking to
I know nothing about the stolen road signs, the cop, and the carwash. Nor of the half hour Win and I spent face
down in the Skull and Bones courtyard having scaled their wall, avoiding detection by the most powerful secret
society in the world…
And I am SURE someone must have helped the two of us finish that bottle of gin…
We lost touch for a while after Yale. He went to law school, I into the Navy and then to graduate school. One day
about 30 years ago I decided to write his folks. For some reason I remembered their address and they still lived
there, so we got back in touch. We saw each other now and then, but eventually I moved to Boise where he
already was and we saw more of each other. I remember his kids as teenagers except Brian who was this cute kid
with curly hair – Brian what happened to your hair?
There had been lots of changes in both of us – we’d gotten into our careers, gotten married, had kids. But the
biggest change in both of us was we had become believers. So now it wasn’t just as friends or roommates that we
made contact, but as brothers. And how did he treat his brother? Well, one day in 2005 minding my own
business when I got a call from Win. “Hey Dave, want to go run a marathon in Antarctica”? Now what part of the
statement, “I am going to run 26 miles across broken terrain in subfreezing conditions in some place without a bar”
seems like a good idea? So I said, “That’s really bizarre Win. Sure”. I asked my son James, “Want to run a
marathon in Antarctica?” “Dad, that is really weird. Sure.”
That started our running together. We saw a lot of each other in 2005-2010 timeframe as we ran 17 or 18
marathons together. And I use the term “run” somewhat loosely. You may have noticed that Win didn’t have
quite the build of your average Kenyan. Well you should know he was a stronger runner than I was, so it shouldn’t
surprise you that we often had what we called “our own private marathon” somewhere in the spread-out back of
the pack. This gave us lots of time to talk. Actually, it gave Win lots of time to talk – I was busy with the
breathing thing. What we lacked in basic skill, we made up for in obsessive-compulsive behavior. Besides
marathons, we ran some longer races, mostly 50K’s. We ran enough of those that at normal races we would
console ourselves that this was “only a marathon”.
Now when you hear the word marathon, you may think of Pheidipides running to warn the Athenians and then
dying; a false story, by the way. He actually ran to Sparta to try to enlist them in the war against Persia and ran
back and didn’t die doing it. He did claim to have seen the god Bacchus on the way back. I saw some strange
things on our run, but Win and I usually reserved Bacchus for AFTER the marathon.
You might think of some Kenyan running 26 consecutive five-minute miles through the streets of Boston. Well,
our marathons were not like that. First of all, that Kenyan was on his third beer before Win and I got halfway
through. We ran mostly trail marathons in places that mostly look like they dated back to Pheidipides day. I
mentioned Antarctica, my first run. Another of them, our longest, was called “the Bohemian Alps 50K” in
Nebraska. OK, there is just so much wrong with that. There aren’t any Alps in Nebraska, there aren’t any
bohemians either, and the run was more than a bit longer than 50K. Instructions to the start said, “Starts at the
run master’s house which is the house 300 yards east of the water tower”. Which gives you some idea of the
The best, I think both of us would agree, was a run through hell. Literally, “Dances with Dirt” in Hell Michigan. The
worst, without question, is one Chris Apel knows well about. “Loving the Hills” in Kentucky was much more like hell
than Michigan was – a kind of hell frozen over (as in “I’ll run a marathon when hell freezes over”. 50K race, 14,000
feet of ups and downs (and nothing of level!), inch of snow on dead leaves and a peak temperature of 23 degrees.
As you may have noticed, Win was infectious. I am at 27 states and three continents and still plugging away, but a
friend of mine who ran his first with me last month wanted me to tell you that Win, whom he never met, was still
having influence, still getting people to run marathons. Win and I got to see parts of the country no one gets to
see. And because this usually involved long drives from the nearest airport and slow runs, we had plenty of time to
talk. One of the things we talked about was our faith. Win was a better runner than I am, and a better man, but in
those runs his infectious faith strengthened mine.
Of course I had seen what most of you had not seen – I knew Win both before and after he became a Christian.
And the transition from normal teenager to Christian man was amazing. I know you are supposed to say how
wonderful the deceased are, but in this case in particular I know it to be true. If there was one lesson I learned
from Win in running and in life, it was “Just keep at it”. Because he was a better runner, Win would often hold
back, encouraging me, helping me finish well. Sometimes I felt, particularly in this last year that Win was holding
back completing another race so he could urge those of us who needed it on toward the goal. Win was a good
man, as everyone has said. But he was not the kind of good man who made you feel inferior or unclean. He was
the kind of good that drew you – that drew me – to be better than I was, to see in him the light of Christ more
brightly, the face of our Savior reflected in his face when I could not see it in my own.
Today Win can say with St Peter:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the
crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me,
but also to all who have longed for his appearing”.