My heart sank when I heard about Tim Don’s tragic accident in Hawaii, three days before his big Kona challenge. I just couldn’t quite believe it – he was fighting fit after taking Brazil by storm, smashing his PB and finishing 25 minutes ahead of everyone in the South American Championships. The gold medal was sure to be his.
Unfortunately, this dream came to a tragic halt as he was hit by a car during training, suffering multiple injuries (including a broken C2 vertebra). After numerous discussions with various doctors, a halo brace was the only option for a complete recovery. Tim had to endure titanium pins being screwed into his skull, two in the front and two in the back, which were attached to two metal bars.
He wore this for three months; it must have been pure torture. He had to sleep sitting up, his wife had to wash him, and he couldn’t play with his two small children. It must have been an unbelievable ordeal. This would have been a life-changing event to most, but with Tim’s determination, incredible talent, positivity and sheer will to achieve the unthinkable, he set himself a new goal.
Tim wanted to compete in the Boston Marathon in April, and that’s exactly what he did. Six months after the accident, he ran Boston in 2 hours 49 minutes. And this wasn’t in great conditions, either –sleet, rain and strong winds faced him on what can only be considered as an awful day for marathon racing. It really was the complete opposite to the extreme heat runners faced in London!
The man is a complete legend, what a great time. On told us that Tim was coming to London after Boston to give a talk on the main stage at the VLM expo, which gave us the opportunity to organise some press briefings with our key media. Tim met with freelancer Rob Kemp, 220 Triathlon editor Helen Webster, Men’s Running editor Isaac Williams, and Tri247.com editor Paul Shanley at the On booth.
I personally thought it was a remarkable experience, and an absolute pleasure, to meet Tim in person. Hearing more about his journey and recovery was totally eye-opening. Back to media arrangements, and prior to the expo he was interviewed by sports presenter Vassos Alexander on the Chris Evans Radio 2 Breakfast Show, and he also had an interview with London Real TV.
After a few days rest while enjoying his sunny hometown, Tim came and joined us at another event we had organised for On. This was our Run to Switzerland event – in partnership with Runners Need, The Swiss Ambassadors Residence and Switzerland Tourism. It was a fantastic day, 150 Runners Need customers all testing out On shoes, running from the Camden Store through Regents Park and finishing at the Swiss Ambassadors Residence for brunch and festivities.
It was a true honour to run with Tim on this fine sunny morning, along with 17 journalists and influencers. We set off in one group along with On co-founder David Allemann, and took a nice leisurely 5K run through the park, past London Zoo. There were a number of journalists running London the next day so we all took it easy and enjoyed the surroundings, whilst testing new On shoes.
On arrival, we enjoyed a traditional and delicious Swiss brunch and listened to speeches from the Ambassador of Switzerland, Alexandre Fasel, and from David and Tim. There was a lot of time to reflect after spending time with Tim. I learnt that you should always follow your dreams and remain positive, and that’s exactly what Tim continues to do.
Hopefully his dream, which is to qualify for Kona 2018, does indeed come true one year after his horrific accident. If one thing’s for sure, he certainly deserves it.