This morning as I was preparing to go for a run on Seattle's sea wall my cell phone went off - it was Neil calling from the conference he was attending here in Seattle. Tragic news from Murdo McEwan, Dario had passed away on the weekend while out running on the hills with his friends. I recall reading Dario's post on the WHW forum as they were organizing the run last week. I was really saddened by the news and found myself emailing friends who knew of him and reading all the comments on the WHW forum.
Neil and I first made contact with Dario last summer as we were driving on the Trans-Canada Highway talking to him on the phone, inquiring how we could sign up for the race. Dario was most enthusiastic about the event and told us how to sign up/pay etc. I recall Neil commenting when he hung up - what a nice guy...he was most helpful. Our next contact was at Christmas time when we were over visiting family and Dario offered to meet up with Neil and I to provide us with more details of the event. I recall meeting Dario at the Stirling service station for a coffee. He had a terrible cold. What a generous man to come out to meet with us when he really was under the weather. He brought gifts for us and the other Canadians signed up...Buffs! The few months before the race he was most helpful with the details that are unknown when you live across the pond. He figured out an estimated time for our crew based on my previous running events. I remember one email he sent he joked that his marshalls at the race were not versed in marriage counselling when we informed him that Neil and I were going to do the WHW together. He arranged for us to trial the transponders this year so friends and family could follow our progress along the journey. He greeted us throughout the race at many check points always inquiring how we were doing. I recall saying to Neil that Dario is everywhere on this race! And to be greeted by him at the finish with the whiskey was so special. The price giving was the best post run awards ceremony I have ever attended. He remembered something about every runner - very classy Dario! At the post race party he made a special effort to talk to Neil and I and I could tell he was truly proud that we had finished the event. I had purchased from Dario one of the West Highland Way stuffed dogs. When we returned home I said to Neil what should we call it and we both decided to call him Dario. So Dario sits on a chair in our bedroom, I give him a pat on the back every morning when I open the blinds. Now that pat on the back will have very special meaning each morning. Thanks Dario for touching so many people in many ways. Ironically when I finally did get out for a run in Seattle today I took my iPOD and it was playing some Scottish tunes I had loaded onto it for WHW such as Run Rigs version of Loch Lommond...that one was for you Dario! From the shores of the West Coast of North America and around the world today many people are feeling the loss of a great man. Neil and I had planned to try again for the WHW next year, now I feel even more passionate about returning. We really felt a connection to the "WHW Family" which Dario created. Thank-you to all his friends who were with him at the time. I hope you are OK ~