Lon Running during a triathlon in 2012. Credit: Lon Lomas Facebook
Social Media has changed the way athletes get to know and follow one another. Since I entered the sport of Ultramarathon running in 2012 I probably have more connections outside of the UK than within it- most of whom I have never physically met.
One of these was Lon Lomas, a triathlete based in Fayetteville, Louisiana. Lon and I got to know each other as we moved into Ultras and both planned our first 100 mile footraces for this year. Lon will not run his, as he was killed whilst cycling in a hit and run on 7th July, just a couple of miles from his house. He leaves a wife, Alicia and two young children, Slaydon and Rylie.
Still Racing. Credit: Lon Lomas Facebook
Whilst I never got to meet Lon, his death has really affected me. Being a husband and father myself, it has made me appreciate how fragile life can be and how it can be so senselessly and horrifically ripped away in a heartbeat.
Lon’s first 100 miler was set to be the Brazos Bend 100 in Texas, on 13th December http://www.brazosbend100.com/ . A few days later it will be his wife and children’s first Christmas without Lon.
The first 100 mile finish is a race to be cherished and remembered forever. The award is a shiny belt buckle, a legacy of when 100 mile races were on horseback as opposed to on foot. Lon will never earn his award, so I am going to go and run the race in his honour and give the belt buckle to his wife and kids at the finish. I like to think if the situation was reversed, this would mean the world to my family.
Lon at the pool with Slaydon. Credit: Lon Lomas Facebook
I have had a lot of support in this endeavour and have been offered a free race entry and free accommodation by the race organisers, knowing why I am coming. However, I have stumbled with getting the flight which is currently £750 return London to Houston. This was not a planned trip and I just don’t have the money to make it happen alone.
With BA and United having said no to a free flight and in discussion with The Guardian, I have set up a page with Crowdfunder- who specialise in helping people raise money for community projects or special events, such as this one. I know that the running community- particularly within ultrarunning- is a special place and I am reaching out to fellow runners, cyclists and parents to help me make this possible for Alicia, Slaydon and Rylie.
The link to the page is here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/a-tribute-to-lon-lomas/
Rylie and Slaydon. Credit: Lon Lomas Facebook
I will be keeping donors updated via my website www.fromsofatoultra.com as I build up to this event and will have Lon and his family in my thoughts as I race the North Downs Way 100 this coming weekend. If donations happen to exceed the £750 mark, every penny in addition will be passed to Lon’s wife for her to contribute to her children’s upbringing and education.
Rylie and Slaydon visit their Father’s ghost bike. Credit: The Advertiser
Lon’s death is an absolute tragedy and so senseless. As time passes on and grief fades, it is often the family who suffer alone. To run this race six months after Lon’s death is very important to me and I hope together we can make this happen and keep his family in our thoughts.
Lon and his wife Alicia in happier times. Credit: Lon Lomas Facebook
4th August 2014