In Memory of Alvin

Ultra-marathon runner to set off on a 5,260-odd kilometre trek across country

I met Alvin in 2011 when he ran the Antarctic Ice Marathon, a race I organized at Union Glacier, Antarctica. In 2013, Alvin took part in another race of mine - the North Pole Marathon - at the opposite end of the earth. A strong runner, he finished third and fourth, respectively, in these extreme marathons. A fun loving guy with a great sense of humor, we got on great.

At this point, Alvin had run marathons on 6 continents and the North Pole and was intent on running his seventh continent - South America - by taking part in the Volcano Marathon in 2014. He signed up for the race, but I didn’t hear anything from him for a while and wondered if all was ok. I subsequently heard the news of his accident, that he was paralyzed. I was shocked. From recollection, Alvin actually apologized for not being in touch!

I felt compelled to do something to help, and to make sure he continued to be in touch with those in the running community. I couldn’t even imagine the sense of isolation he might feel with such an injury.

I had decided to run across the USA in 2015, from San Francisco to New York, and I used it as a fundraiser for Alvin. He loved the re-connections with the running community during the run, he came to the finish in New York, and there was tens of thousands of dollars raised for him within a few weeks. At the same time, his friends and family were a magnificent support to him in California and he was introduced to handcycling.

After the USA run, Alvin wanted to complete his 7th continent on a handcycle. Our intent was to use a road course in the vicinity of the Volcano Marathon in the Atacama Desert. Unfortunately, medical setbacks on two occasions meant he never got to do so. However, Alvin traveled to the Miami leg of the World Marathon Challenge (7 marathons 7 continents 7 days) on two occasions… continuing to be involved with, and loved by people in the athletics community.

I was in California in April 2021, having reconstructive knee surgery. Alvin and I were in touch, we were planning to meet up a week later. Alvin was always more concerned about my injuries than his own situation! I discussed my plan to run across the USA again in 2022 (after years of injury) and to use it as a major fundraiser for him to assist with his medical expenses. He was upbeat, happy, looking forward to new horizons.

Within 36 hours I heard the news from his friend Christopher Pryor that he died in his sleep.

The transcontinental run is now dedicated to Alvin. I’m carrying some of his ashes in a penchant every step of the way., which I’ll return to his mother and family when I reach California. Alvin was a big fan of the Triumph Foundation and the role it plays with people with spinal cord injuries. I want to support the Triumph Foundation in Alvin’s name and hope others will join me in doing so.

Follow Richard's journey over on his Facebook Page.