Cameron and I were really good friends for our first 2 years at ZAP. We hung out all the time, laughed a lot, ran a ton of miles together, and were fiercely competitive about everything. Our relationship had soured the past few years for reasons that are not even worth putting on this page. I said mean things about him and he said mean things about me. I’m a stubborn and proud person and Cameron was my match. In many ways we were very, very similar. We were both quick to crack a joke and equally quick to dig our feet in when confronted with something. He was my teammate for 5 years and we went back and forth in races constantly. He was the life of the party and one of the most social people I have ever met. He was Cam. He was Magnum. He was Cron.
On Saturday evening, Cameron was hit by a car while on a run in Chattanooga. Burg informed Griff, Cassie, and I on Sunday morning and the initial information was that he had broken several bones and that there was some minor bleeding in his brain. I reacted numbly but was glad it didn’t seem life threatening.
Throughout Sunday the news became more grave as Cameron’s brain was swelling and the doctors were unable to control it. He spent the night in the ICU fighting, grinding, and pushing through. The same qualities that he used to transform himself from a 9:01 college steepler into an 8:32 professional were fully at work.
I had trouble sleeping on Sunday night as I wished I could have put aside my pride and let petty differences go. In a moment of crisis, I felt myself wondering why I cared so much about all that other stuff?
I wanted to make up with him and I wanted to give him a hug and I wanted to crack a joke with him again without any hint of resentment. I cannot do that now. Cameron Bean died yesterday at the age of 28. I cannot begin to understand what his family is going through but I know the ZAP and running community will be deeply affected by his loss.
Cameron was PURE ENERGY. You always knew when he was around and his presence was always felt. Former ZAP athlete Chris Clark and I used to always tease him that when he was with a big group of people his peacock feathers came out and he was totally in his element holding court and telling stories.
I will choose to remember all the fun we had together and all of his quirks that made him as unique a person as I have ever met. Mr. Bean was the ceremonial salt shake on the chips at Los Arcoiris, he was Hot Tub Sundays (with bubbles occasionally), he was the biggest fan of sunglasses, he was a techno/dub step/rap aficionado who blared it during core at any time of day, he was the guy who laid on the horn as he drove down ZAP’s driveway announcing his presence, and he was a former choir boy from Tennessee who had catalogued so much music in his head that he could recall nearly any rap lyric on command. He was all of these things and more.
On a more serious note there are two big things I really want everyone to know about him that give a crystal clear picture of how seriously and passionately he took his running:
1. Cameron was very appreciative of his ZAP opportunity. He moved to Blowing Rock in 2010 without a contract or even a spot on the team. No one in the 14 year history of ZAP has made that leap and he did so without hesitation because he wanted to pursue his dream. In 3 short years, he had made himself one of the top 10 steeplers in the United States.
2. He was injured for his last 2 years at ZAP and throughout all of it he never wavered in his desire to get back to where he once was. I have seen many people go through injury-plagued periods at ZAP and eventually throw in the towel and quit. He never wavered in his pursuit and over the last 12 months he was in Blowing Rock he did countless drills, stretches, and other tedious exercises in the single-minded mission of getting healthy. He took immense pride in being called a professional runner as he recognized that so few in the running world had the resources he did.
Please take the time to call the person in your life that you are currently in a disagreement with and just say sorry. Say I love you, say I forgive you. Let it go now because there may not be that much time left.
Cameron, I love you and I hope you are resting peacefully now. All is forgiven and I’m sorry I didn’t get to say that sooner.