The emptiness went on and on. Both feet left the ground.
May 20, 2013 10:52 PM   Subscribe

I know how much can be at stake when a man takes a four-hour walk: Everything. The incomparable Gary Smith relates the tragic tale of 2004 Olympic hopeful Albert Heppner.

Much of Gary Smith's writing is available free in the SI Vault.
posted by MoonOrb (7 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
He stopped taking Prozac. An Olympian couldn't possibly need such a crutch, and besides, the quest killed sadness better than any drug could. "It's just situational depression," he told people. "I'm fine now.... My life is like a fairy tale now."

Those words have killed many strong people.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:08 PM on May 20, 2013 [13 favorites]

I think that's the only comment this post needs justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow.

Of course now I've gone and ruined it.

posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:34 AM on May 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

No words... At the bottom of the obituary linked above, it reads (italics original): Please stay in touch with your running and walking friends - it's OK to care!
posted by carmicha at 3:36 AM on May 21, 2013

posted by Halloween Jack at 5:26 AM on May 21, 2013

Thanks for sharing this article. I never knew anything about Olympic race-walking before and how challenging it is.
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:58 AM on May 21, 2013

First post here. I know this guy's father, met him as a volunteer mediator, and worked with him on a family conflict through a non-profit community mediation center. This is a beautiful article about his son, and I had no concept of this part of his past. As I consider the survivor, some of the remarks from 2004 now ring as unfamiliar to me, though the loss of such an energetic young man remains breathtakingly sad.
posted by childofTethys at 9:08 AM on May 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

This article is amazing. Thank you for sharing. Poor Al.
posted by sweetkid at 11:49 AM on May 21, 2013

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