(1948-2007) knew how to “truly live” and he deeply touched the lives of many
the last three years he has fought valiantly to sustain that life with his
loving family and friends. Even in his death, he is an inspiration to all of us."
These are the words I used on the inside front cover of the
tribute album I made this week for Regis' widow, Diana, who lost the love of her
life after 37 happy years of marriage.
The album includes letters from people on the
ultra running, VHTRC, and Mohican 100 internet message boards and the AT-L
hiking forum as they reacted to the news that Regis had died from throat cancer.
I left plenty of room for the dozens of e-mails and cards Diana received
directly from runners all over the country who were deeply saddened by the news
and offered comfort and poignant reminiscences of time spent with Regis.
FAREWELL TO A FRIEND
I first wrote about Regis and Diana in
6, mentioning their AT thru-run in 2003. Regis completed the entire
AT in 87+ days with Diana crewing for him. I really wanted to talk to them about
their trek since it's the one most like ours, but knew Regis was already
sick. I didn't want to bother them.
I did finally send them a get-well card and letter
a few weeks before our departure. Once they got a computer, Diana began writing
enthusiastic, informative e-mails to us at the beginning of May (see
We got more letters from them than anyone else during the AT Adventure Run, and
we've continued corresponding regularly ever since.
This is the letter I sent to the ultra and VHTRC lists announcing
Regis' death on February 28, 2007:
"I'm writing this through
tears of grief for an ultra runner I never had the pleasure of meeting, yet he
had a big impact on my life. I will never forget him. I still hope to meet his
wife, Diana, someday.
Regis Shivers, Sr. of West Lafayette, OH died this morning at 6:30 after several
years of fighting throat/chest cancer that had apparently begun even before he
ran the Appalachian Trail in 2003 in 87 days. The story of his adventure is in
the October 2003 issue of UltraRunning magazine (p. 66). Diana crewed for him in
much the same way that Jim crewed for me when I ran/hiked the Trail in 2005 --
only Regis did it faster AND completed the Mohican 100-mile race in the middle
of his journey run!
I knew Regis was ill when I began my own quest on the AT, but I finally wrote to
him anyway. The response we received from Regis and Diana was
overwhelmingly supportive. They
wrote to us almost weekly during our trek,
offering encouragement, motivational quotes, and tons of information that was
very helpful to us.
As I neared the end of my journey, Regis asked if I minded if he summitted Katahdin
with me. The mountain was shrouded in fog the day he finished his run, and he
wanted to relive the climb on a sunny day.
I was deeply honored that he'd want
to join me. Despite being in and out of the hospital, he had been training
enough to believe he could do the climb. It gave him hope, and motivation to
train. I eagerly looked forward to meeting him.
Unfortunately, Regis had an important hospital appointment in Cincinnati when I
reached Katahdin and he never got to return to the mountain.
Diana continued to
send regular e-mails about his condition over the next fifteen months. Their
life was a roller coaster of hospitalizations for chemo, tubes for his throat,
returning home for a while, and on and on. He'd get better, then worse. Both of
them truly fought a "battle" against the disease. I don't think I could have
handled the stress nearly as well as they did. Since December, the updates have
come from their daughter, Shannon. Diana was too exhausted to continue writing
I hope those of you who know him better will write about his life and
his running. Regis was an inspiration to me, and I know he was beloved by
many others. If you'd like to send e-mail condolences to his family, his
e-mail address is
WONDERFUL RESPONSE FROM RUNNERS
The response was immediate and heartfelt as runners
expressed their sadness and shared inspirational stories about encounters with
both Regis and Diana at races through the years. Regis was always a very
competitive runner, even in his 50s. After becoming too ill to run ultras, he
still encouraged other runners and attended nearby races as a volunteer and
This is a photo of a happy Regis back in September, 1991 as
he led the Superior Trail 100-mile race. Runners had to be canoed across a
70-yard-wide beaver pond during the night that year. Byron Backer, an ultra runner I've known for many years,
remembered this great photo of Regis on the cover of UltraRunning magazine from
November, 1991, and suggested I include it in the album:
I also learned from David Horton that Regis
first attempted an AT run in 2001 with Mike Sandlin. Regis stopped in Damascus
after almost 500 miles but Mike continued on and finished in 66 days with his
wife Judy's crewing assistance. See "5 Million Steps to Katahdin" here:
I'm so glad Regis was able to do the entire
Trail from Georgia to Maine two years later, vindicating that first DNF. It was
one of his proudest accomplishments.
I love this photo of Regis, Diana, Judy, and
Mike from the website:
JIM'S GREAT IDEA
I told Jim I'd forward the letters from the message boards
to Diana in case the writers didn't send them directly to her (Regis was not on
the ultra list).
And my wonderful husband came up with a terrific idea - why
not put them into a memory album for Diana and her family?
That made lots of sense. I'm knee-deep in (finally!)
creating my AT albums, supplies strewn all over my craft room. I have been
scrap-booking more this winter than running. Why not make an attractive,
permanent keepsake for Diana, her two adult children, and grandchildren,
something they can read now and in the future to bring back precious memories of
their husband, father, grandfather?
So I sent another message to the ultra and VHTRC lists
about the album and
received even MORE great letters. A woman named Kim who lives near Regis asked
if she could send letters to the Mohican 100-mile race message board about
Regis, so they are also included in the album. And Tom McGinnis, an AT
thru-hiker and ultra runner on the AT-L list, sent me even more from there.
This is a happy picture of Kim and Regis at the 2006
Mohican 100-miler. Kim was running and Regis was cheering her on. Friends say Regis often
smiled and laughed, even through his tough battle with cancer. That says a lot
about his man.
You can read Kim's blog entry about Regis here:
I finished the first part of the album today and mailed it
to Diana with lots of extra protective pages and coordinating papers, vellum
quotes, embellishments, and other supplies so she (or a scrap-booking friend) can
add cards, letters, and e-letters they received from other runners. If they got
as many letters as I think they did, they're going to need several MORE albums
to display all of them! (Kim said over 500 people attended the viewing,
testimony to how well-loved both Diana and Regis are.)
Here is a link to Regis' obituary and an interesting
7-minute video of photos from his childhood to recent times. After watching it,
you may feel like you know him even if you never met him.
HAPPY TRAILS, REGIS
The death of a runner our age (58), especially one with
whom we shared the un-common bond of running/hiking the entire Appalachian
Trail, has had a major impact on me for the past week. I am deeply sorry for
Diana's loss - and for our own loss in never meeting Regis. He and Diana have
touched the lives of many people, even those like us who never met him in
I've been reflecting a lot on how precious and how tenuous
life is. I've written about this before in this journal - making the most of
every day because we may not be here tomorrow, working to make our hopes and
dreams come true, cherishing the people we love and letting them know it.
and Diana exemplified these virtues, and his death is a reminder to all of us to
truly live every day of our lives..
I'm grateful for many things, including Jim's and my good
health and our love for each other, our family and friends, the freedoms we
enjoy, the adventures we've had and the ones we plan in the future -- and the
pleasure we were able to give Regis as he re-lived his own AT adventure through
this journal after he was no longer able to run as much as he wanted.
Good-bye, dear friend. Happy trails to you!
ADDENDUM DECEMBER, 2007
We finally got to meet Diana and Regis, Jr. recently.
I was very disappointed when I learned that we'd missed
them at the nearby Mountain Masochist 50-miler in early November. Regis, Jr.
wasn't in the race, but he and his mom were visiting Nancy and Dave Drach and crewing Dave
in the race.
None of us knew we were sitting near each other at both the pre-race and
post-race dinners, probably at the Hwy. 60 aid station at the same time, or at
the finish area.
Rats. We could have spent a lot of quality time together
After the race Diana and I exchanged several e-mail
letters. She said Regis, Jr. would be running the Hellgate 100K race in early
December and she'd be crewing for him. At that point, Jim and I were planning to
be at the Sunmart 50s in Texas the same weekend, on our way out to Across the
Years 24-hour race.
We'll miss them again, I thought.
Well, our plans changed a bit and we WERE here in the
Roanoke area at the time of Hellgate. Since we're only about a 45-minute drive
from the staging/finish area of the race, we invited Diana, Regis, Jr., and
their hometown ultra running friend Gabe Rainwater to stay at our house on Thursday
evening and Friday.
As I expected, we had plenty to talk about! While the guys
discussed various ultra events and training tactics, Diana and I shared photos
and memories. It was such a pleasure to finally meet them and spend time
together in a relaxed setting..
I took this photo of Diana and Regis, Jr. just before they
left for the pre-race dinner on a cold, wet Friday afternoon:
Regis, Jr. did very well in this difficult race, famous for
its ice, snow, and frigid weather. As usual, Hellgate was sandwiched between two
warm spells where Roanoke set new records for heat -- but at least it wasn't so
cold this time that runners' eyeballs froze! It's happened in previous Hellgate
races on the windy mountain ridges during the night.
RD David Horton generously allowed Gabe, a 19-year-old who
has finished at least one 100-miler already, to tag along behind Regis the last
forty miles (but not pace him). Both got their photo in the Roanoke newspaper on
Sunday, which was a nice surprise for them. They had such a great time they're
already planning for Hellgate 2008. .