"Frankly, you've got to be a little crazy to do it," is not just a phrase Cameron Bean (aka Cron$ity Magnum Bean) muttered, but a phrase he lived by until is untimely death in September of 2015. Running wasn't just a passion for Cameron, it was a way of life. It's one of the reasons that we got along so well. Back in 2011 when I first saw Cameron he was punk that ran for Samford University.
Samford was in the Southern Conference with Appalachian State University where I ran. Being a conference rival we didn't need any extra reasons to hate him, but he certainly made himself an easy target. Between his long hair, the girls uniform tied up in the back with his midriff showing, and his brash racing style, he made us hate him. We were like dogs chasing and barking at each other on opposite sides of the fence. But just like dogs, once we were in the same yard, you would've never known we hated each other. It didn't take long for Cameron and I to become friends after he moved to Boone, NC to join Zap Fitness and become a professional runner.
|The Cron$ity we hated|
A year later I would join Cron in the struggling professional ranks. Without his guidance I don't know if I could've made it. I know I'm resourceful and determined, but Cameron helped me get a job at a restaurant in nearby Blowing Rock that he was working at and also invited me along on runs with his teammates at Zap Fitness. I was a newbie and hadn't learned the art of the hustle. The hustle is real as a professional distance runner. You have to find creative ways to make ends meet. When you aren't a top tier distance runner coming out of college your options are very limited. Just like Cameron, I had aspirations that far exceeded my college times, so I had no choice but to keep running. Over those first few months of working and running together, I quickly learned what it meant to be a professional athlete and have to balance a full time job. It's a grind. It's often boring and tedious, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun. We spent countless hours together running and working in the summer and fall of 2011. Maybe it's just my memory fading, but I feel like we spent almost every moment together during that time. I know that can't be right, but who cares. I spent most of the runs trying not to get dropped, and Cron spent most of the time entertaining us. We were 2 peas in a pod. Ready to party at the drop of a beat.
Cron made sure to make light of even the toughest physical situations we would be going through. It was remarkable what a quick laugh or smile can do to your moral during a 7mile long fartlek or a grueling double at work. At the time I didn't know how valuable the lessons were that Cron and I were learning together. That time made us became each other's biggest fans. We were outsiders forcing our way onto the big stage and loved every minute of it.
|Cron and I during my 1st showing as a Pro|
Time passed and we grew closer, I moved away and moved back, but we always stayed in touch. Cron was there on the day I decided to give professional running another try after walking away from the sport during my 3td battle with my Vasculitis disorder, and he was there the night I became the 448th American to break the 4 minute Mile. It's been nearly 2 years since we lost our friend. It still stings. So many of us weren't done living life with him. We all have different beliefs about the afterlife, and Cron certainly let his be known. While we might not have always agreed about what happens after death, I can tell you this, matter is neither created or destroyed.
His energy is still here and still with all of those that loved him (or hated him, because you know he still finds ways to silence those haters). Sometime while Cron was running for Zap Fitness, which is sponsored by Reebok, Reebok came up with a slogan #LiveWithFire. I can't think of another person that has truly embodied that statement. He made life fun and infectious no matter the situation.
|Cron and my Coach James Snyder aka SnyDawg|
I miss him. For weeks I couldn't decide if I wanted to run the Cam Run and Magnum Mile. Having won its inaugural campaign, I couldn't settle for coming back and not being in the front. For those that don't know I have a rare Vasculitis disorder that has once again reared it's ugly head and forced me away from the sport that I love so much. But as the time got closer, it became harder and harder to make a decision. I haven't been to any of the races that I ran last year when I was one of the top 15 milers in the country. So showing up to a meet not at my best is hard. It burns me to my core, but I have to for Cron. I know Cron wouldn't give me any slack. He never did. I have been getting out and running everyday for a while now, so there was absolutely no reason why I couldn't get out there and bust my balls. Just this week in a last minute preparation for The Cam Run 5k and Magnum mile, I was out on the track testing my limits to see what I could handle when I found myself laughing and smiling. I was hurting and hurting bad. I was in a zone that I haven't been in for nearly 8 months. It made me think about Cron. His energy was still there with me. It sounds corny, but it's not. It's real. So Saturday I'll be in Chattanooga to laugh, to cry, to party, and most of all honor our friend. He may not be here in physical presence anymore, but he's still teaching us lessons and inspiring us to #LiveWithFire.
You can still register to run at https://cameronbean5k.itsyourrace.com/register/