Deeply saddened by this….
I would have never thought that someone who I “met” on a message board and only in person a couple of times could have such a profound impact... not just in the news of his death, but rather in the positive influence he gave me.
His character was remarkable. He was incredibly giving of his time, effort, and expertise to the extent that anyone who would ask him a favor would think twice because he would do anything to help a person out.
He was flat-out hilarious. He viewed life through a very insightful lens. This along with his quick wit and his extraordinary communication skills made for a rich brand of humor. I am not sure that this aspect of his personality came through much on the Letsrun boards. Here he was usually engaged in training discussions, which he was very serious about with his intent to help others reach their goals.
He was also an incredibly humble person, and this humility drove him to be intensely private... he did not want any notoriety or public credit. He also commanded respect. Hadd probably met / corresponded / coached 30-40 people who knew his real name, yet no one ever “outed” him... I think that says something.
Of course, running... particularly coaching... was of extreme importance to him. He didn’t need to jump and down and make a big spectacle of it, yet his comprehesive passion and knowledge came through loud and clear from all the way on the other side of the globe. I can understand the generalization often made that he was big on “easy” distance... Yes, that is one item that shouldn’t be neglected for a serious distance runner, and there are certain principles that you can’t get around. Yet, as we all know there are a lot of factors that impact training and performance... what event is one training for, how much time until the goal race, one’s predisposition to certain injuries, other factors in life, etc etc... it all plays into it. He didn’t like prescribing a regimen going more than a couple of weeks out. He also prescribed workouts that were very fast / tough. So, to say he was all about distance is perhaps a little too much of a sweeping generalization. He was 100% old-school coach that learned through experience, and he was at the same time 100% scientific coach that was extremely well versed in all the “whys” and “hows” of physiology. He was a very gifted individual and he used it to further distance running. In my mind, I think he was one of the greatest... there is no doubt to me that he could squeeze the most out of any one’s talent (if the runner was inclined to see what they could do). He would freak if he knew I said this on Letsrun and would quickly cite other coaches who've coached gold-medalists, etc. etc.
Running and coaching were the platforms through which his surpassing love for others was displayed. He was amazing in the way that to just observe him doing what he did made you reconsider what you were doing with your life. I am kind of ashamed in that my investment in others is weak in comparison to John’s, yet I know that even from beyond life he would still be encouraging me (or anyone) that they can do it... become the person they want to be...
Beyond the personal loss of those who knew him, the running community, and even the world lost a treasure that it did not know it had. He was extraordinary, and he never disappointed. I suppose it could be seen as ironic in some regards that he passed so young, yet alternatively, it is ironic that although he died so young, he lived a life of rich experience that 100s of people summed together won’t.
Thanks for everything, Hadd. Thanks for sharing so much... was blessed to know you. I wish I had been more persuasive to get you to write that book. I will forever regret that, and I am sorry that I feel I let you down there...
John Walsh, I’ll miss you.
My heartfelt condolences to his wife, Carol, who he loved wayyyy more than anything.