February 28, 2022 marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic loss of Troy Manz during an expedition race in Florida. Today we share reflections on Troy's life and his connection with the sport, from Bill Donohue, USARA Asst. Media Director.
I didn’t know Troy Manz, but I have a sense of the character of Troy Manz because the sport of adventure racing is filled with affable, personable, supportive souls who always have an eye out for other racers on the course and in life.
Then again, Troy seems to stand out among giants.
By all accounts, when a tragic car accident took Troy’s life in the early morning hours of February 28, the world lost a superhero.
Troy was a Marine veteran and member of the 932nd Critical Care Air Transport Team who flew wounded soldiers out of Afghanistan. He was active in the 126th Medical Group Air National Guard. He was an internal medical resident at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes and Ascension St. Vincent Evansville, Indiana. He was a world traveler, an adventure, and a lover of good beer…
He was me, and he was better than me.
When I first heard there was an incident at the Sea to Sea Expedition Race across Florida, I immediately thought of all the people I knew in the race. Like others, I scoured Facebook comments for information. A link to a news report offered enough identifying information to know that my friends were safe.
And then I saw a comment by someone who knew that their friends were not safe.
As information came out, the world of Adventure Racing came together. As of this writing, over $25,000 has been raised in a GoFundMe campaign for Troy and his teammates, including his fiancé who was racing with him. Many on the names on the donation list were the names I was searching for of people I knew in the race.
And then there are comments from people who met Troy during the race:
“Hey KC” “Hey KC” our teams would shout to one another when we passed or rested. We were newbies just as you and we all served our country proudly. We grew along the route of the course and so thankful for you allowing us to share our short memories. So “Hey KC,” rest easy we have your six!
I have countless “race friends” just like this. Yet, Troy was special, as people beyond the AR world have testified:
Troy, you were like a big brother to me. Mentor, leader, friend. You never told me what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear. You’re a badass in every possible way. I’ll always remember our flying days with a smile.
“Mentor, leader, friend”-- I can only hope and aspire to have such words written about me. Yet, it’s little surprise that Troy was drawn to the world of adventure racing. The community abounds with such people. I’ve met them training, on the course, and online. I’ve recently had the privilege of working the newly formed USARA board, and I saw how affected, concerned, and thoughtful they were as they prepared a response to the tragedy.
This is not the first time an adventure racer has died during a race or in training. And, unfortunately, it will not be the last. I trust that USARA and race directors around the world will continue to focus on the safety of the racers.
But I know that racers will have my back. And I’ll have theirs.
Troy, someday, I hope we meet at the next transition.
Until then, adventure on!
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