The local triathlon community was shocked early this week to learn of the tragic accident that took the life of one our communities’ greatest athletes. Jason was a fierce competitor and a staple at the local races finishing on the overall podium in nearly every race he entered. Those of us who knew him and raced with him are deeply sadden by this loss. Even though he lived in Wyoming I think those of us from Utah would gladly call him one of our own. I wanted to open this up for anyone to share their condolences and to write down any lasting memory you have of Jason so that it may be preserved for future generations to know a little bit more about this great man with the heart of a champion.
I first met Jason in Burley Idaho at the infamous Spudman Triathlon. I was running in college and the spudman was the only tri I did at the time. During the late 90’s Jason was my idol not only because of his amazing ability but because he had such charisma. He had long flowing locks of hair and big bushy sideburns and resembled a young Steve Prefontaine. At the time He and Aaron Olsen were always battling it out for the top spot in Burley. He won several years in a row and even Qualified and Competed in the Ironman World Championships in Kona HI. He was the king and I admired his tenacity and his burly looks. It would be several more years before I could compete at his level but he made me want to be better.
When I finished school I turned my focus to Triathlon and started to cut my teeth in the sport with Heath Thurston, Monte Still, Tom Thorum and many others. Jason had stopped racing at the time and it wouldn’t be until the Dino Tri a few years later that our paths would cross again. I remember riding the bus to the start and striking up a conversation with him and when I realized it was him he probably thought I was crazy how I went on and on about how awesome he was and how much I admired him. This was his transition back into the sport and it wasn’t long before he was back to his winning ways. For the next 5 years or so Jason would always be the guy to watch out for on race day.
Jason was the true age grouper who would work long hard laborious hours and fit in his training where he could. He didn’t geek out on all the fancy gear or toys that were flooding the market. He would race on feel, his ability, and his heart. He would always be approachable and often wear a costume or try some antic to get a rise out of people and truth be told some of the crap I do is because Jason would.
He understood that sport and fun do not have to be separate and that at the end of the day you went home and regular life was your priority. I never saw him lose his composure or treat any one with disrespect. Racing with Jason was truly a good time. You knew he would make you hurt when you did but it was always fun. I lost my fair share of races to him and never felt down because you knew you gave your best and losing to a friend like him, well never felt like a loss. Jason embodied all that is good about the sport of triathlon.
One experience in particular that makes me smile often is running the Halloween Half Marathon with him. On this particular occasion Jason wore a full Super Grover costume complete with fur and head piece. Imagine running 13.1 miles in essentially a theme park costume. Not only did he do it but I think he finished in the top 5 that day. When he got to the finish line he pulled the head piece off and threw up. His face was as red as a tomato and told me that that may not have been his best decision.
He was always up for a challenge and nothing seemed too hard. He gave everything he had at everything he did. I know he will be missed and I will miss our swapping of war stories at the finish line. You left us too early Jason but you certainly lived while you were here.
Mostly I hope we can all realize that life is so precious and short. I challenge us all to live a deeper and more fulfilling life in this loss. We all face obstacles and hardships. Be grateful for the opportunity to improve and live. I know I will strive to continue to do that very thing. Life is not fair sometimes and though I wish I could be reminded of how precious it is in a way other than this. You will not be forgotten my friend and will treasure each day even more because of you.
If you would like to add your condolences and stories please do. I would love to give them to his wife and children so they may see forever his impact.