Dear Badwater Friends:
It is with a heavy heart that I must report that Badwater 2000 veteran and Badwater 2002 staffer Scott McQueeney, age 47, has passed away, just seconds after crossing the finish line of a 50k event in his home state of Oregon.
Scott was a good man and a great friend to our race. He ran and hosted the best Badwater "fan website" at http://www.run2xs.com and he was also a fantastic father. His daughter, Shannon, had been battling cancer and he did so very much to support her, such as running a marathon backwards, building a special online diary website for her, and bringing her to Badwater 2002 with his wife and her mother, Vivian. He did the latter so that she could be a part of the event and so that she could cross the finish line with fellow cancer survivor, Rick Nawrocki. Scott, Shannon, and Vivian were integral to the success of the 2002 race and Scott played a vital role in running our best-ever webcast.
Scott will be sorely missed. We extend our condolences to his family and ask that all of you do the same.
L-R: Scott's wife Vivian, friend Pat, daughter Shannon, and Scott himself at the Panamint Springs Resort during the 2002 Badwater Ultramarathon. This was their only break. They worked very hard.
Scott (center) with the rest of the 2002 webcast team: Matt Frederick (left), and Anurang Revri (right).
Scott and his crew at the finish line in 2000.
Click here for Scott's 2000 Badwater application / biography
Scott Douglas McQueeney, was born in Portland, OR, November 4, 1955 and passed away on April 26, 2003 after crossing the finish line during a 50k ultra-marathon race near Corvallis. A beloved father, husband, son, brother and friend, he will be missed but never forgotten. A man who knew no boundaries and lived life to its fullest every day. His wisdom and advice changed the lives of all who were in contact with him. He was known to run up, down, and around mountains and on occasion, a marathon backwards.
If he was told it couldn't be done, he would find a way to do it. If it hadn’t been done, he would find a way to do it. A man who cared more about people then the trivial things in life. He would go to the ends of the earth for his family and back again. His friends could always expect honesty, sincerity, and endless love.
Scott was an active member of a twelve step program since March 17, 1987, and for sixteen years he has helped people find a better life for themselves. He was an inspiration to us all and if we can be a quarter of the person and parent that he was, then we will have truly accomplished something in life.
Missing him are his wife, Vivian Marie McQueeney (Oregon City); Children: Jennifer McQueeney (Bend), Christopher McQueeney (Oregon City), Shannon McQueeney (Portland), Tyler Tappenbeck (Oregon City); Mother, Marie McQueeney, (Clackamas); Sister, Nancy Schuff (Milwaukie); brother, Steven McQueeney, (Portland); Grandchildren: Joshua , Jasmine and Riley White; Niece: April Schuff, (Milwaukie);Grandmother, Effie Ritchey, (Milton-Freewater); and "a host of friends."
The memorial service will be held on Friday, May 2 at 1:00 PM at Atkinson Memorial Church, 6th and John Adams St. in Oregon City.
Checks for Shannon's college fund can be made to Shannon McQueeney and sent directly to her home address. The checks will be deposited in the college account:
Vivian / Shannon McQueeney
306 Jefferson St.
Oregon City, OR 97045
Click here for another Scott McQueeney Memorial Website,
including many photos, comments about Scott, and quotes from emails he sent.
On August 2nd, The Mt. Hood PCT 50/50 Ultra will be held and dedicated to the memory of Scott, renamed in his honor. The family will be in attendance and participating in the event. All are invited to join us in this mountain wilderness experience.
Click http://www.scottdiamond.com/running/races/pct/index.htm for the info.
A Marathon All Too Fleeting
By John Canzano
"Within a few miles, I was face first in the gravel on the side of the road. The wheels had come off. I felt as if I had been shot with an animal tranquilizer and could not move. But quitting never entered my mind." -- from Scott McQueeney's ultra-marathon diary
PORTLAND ---- They retraced the final mile of his life. One by one, his wife and four children made their way down the mountain trail. They stepped where he stepped. They saw what he saw. They crossed the wooden bridge, made the final right turn, took those last few strides and stopped beneath that giant maple tree.
That is where Scott McQueeney died April 26.
"Everyone dies," he once told his daughter.
Just not at the end of a 33-mile run. Or at the foot of a beautiful tree. Or with his family so far away and his troubles so far behind him. But that is where it ended. And this is also where it begins for his family.
McQueeney, 47, was a competitive runner. He finished more than 50 marathons. And he ran ultra-marathons, including a 135-mile race in which the temperature reached 128 degrees. He'd beaten alcohol. He'd helped his teenage daughter beat cancer. He ran to mountaintops -- for fun.
"He was 10 feet tall and bulletproof," his wife, Vivian says.
Then, he was gone.
McQueeney woke up that morning, heated up a cup of coffee, hurried out the door and drove to Corvallis to run a 50-kilometer race. He crossed the finish line. He smiled. Then, he collapsed beneath that tree, took the final breath of his life, and died.
"I know he didn't want to leave," Vivian says.
When friends heard McQueeney was dead they thought "car accident," because that's what people think when you hear about a person, especially one in great physical condition, dying too young, right?
You never think sudden heart arrhythmia.
"It's so difficult to figure all this out," says Shannon, his 17-year-old daughter.
"Don't ask 'why.' Y is a crooked letter never to be straightened."
To understand the confusion, first understand the journey. Shannon is the youngest of McQueeney's children. She was born a year before her father entered a drug and alcohol recovery program.
"Shannon grew up going to 12-step meetings with her dad," Vivian says. "She was Scott's second chance at being a good father."
Shannon doesn't have the memories of McQueeney's older children. There is no recollection of the drinking binges that kept their father away from the family home for days. No reminiscing about the personality changes. She doesn't remember the self-defeating, antisocial behavior.
But they do.
"He changed 180 degrees," Christopher, 25, says. "It was amazing to see him afterward. He was a different person."
So, come see him.
See McQueeney celebrate 15 years of sobriety. Watch him become a family man who designs Web pages. See him keep a diary of his deepest thoughts. Then, come down the stairs into the basement of his Oregon City home -- 12 steps from top to bottom -- where you are able to absorb the scattered fragments of his life
There is a rock collection in a display case. There is a giant glass jug filled with pocket change. There are photographs of his friends and his family. There are books and loose scraps of paper with his thoughts scribbled on them. And there are those running medals, 39 of them dangling off a coat rack.
"This was his place," his oldest son, Tyler, 28, says. "It's weird to come down here and not see him sitting in his chair. He'd be working right there, doing his thing."
He'd be designing Web pages. Or teaching himself how to redo the plumbing of their 90-year-old house. And invariably, he'd be writing his thoughts about Shannon.
This is a life interrupted. If you could stick your fingers into Scott McQueeney's life and pluck out something that really explained who he was, the father could have lived to be 100 and you would always have ended up with the story about a man, his 17-year-old daughter and her cancer.
A year ago, Shannon was a student at Portland's Grant High School. She found herself alone with her dad in the hospital, waiting for test results on two large cysts doctors had found in her body.
"Are you nervous?" her father asked.
"About the test?"
"Are you afraid you have cancer?"
It was then that the father made her a bet. He wagered that the cyst was nothing to worry about. He told her that, if she didn't have cancer, she would have to go home and do the dishes.
And if she did?
"I will run a marathon backwards," he told her.
I was at 5,000 feet elevation and had reached mile No. 87. You could see forest fires in the distance. You could see the ash drift to the valley floor. The sun had obscured and become a beautiful red ball. I felt much better.
Shannon had Burkitt's lymphoma, a rare, life-threatening cancer. She asked her father if she was going to die. It was then that he told her everyone dies. At that moment, they hugged and decided there was really no alternative but to live.
"He was so strong for me," Shannon says. "He went to every test and every treatment."
McQueeney also turned his bet into an inspiration. Last October, he put on his running clothes, pinned a photograph of Shannon to his shirt and ran the Portland Marathon backward.
The muscles in his legs cramped. He even fell down once. And people jeered McQueeney because they misinterpreted his backward run for showboating.
"I was so proud," says Shannon, who came out of the crowd and slowly jogged the final five miles alongside her dad. "People didn't understand why he was doing it backward, but I did."
There was one woman in particular.
"She was really badgering him," Vivian says. "She yelled out to him and asked what he was trying to prove, why he was trying to be so macho."
McQueeney smiled and answered.
"I bet my daughter that she didn't have cancer," McQueeney said as he passed the woman. "And I lost." The woman broke down crying.
But Shannon's story soon turned into one of triumph. After losing her long blond hair to chemotherapy, after the CT scans, the blood transfusions, the infections, after watching her father stumble 26.2 miles backward for her, after five months of too many hospital visits to count, her cancer went into remission last year.
"So far, I'm still OK," Shannon says.
The morning her father competed in what would be the final run of his life, Shannon sat in her bedroom, putting together a scrapbook. She was three days shy of celebrating the one-year anniversary of her final chemotherapy treatment.
This is where she was when that terrible phone call came. The call that brought a wife and four children to a muddy mountain trail days after his death. The call that left them quietly heading toward that giant maple tree, wondering what they're supposed to do without him.
"I don't just want him back for one more day," Vivian says, "I want it all back.
"Keep passing it on if you want to keep it!"
McQueeney may have been heroic and fearless as an ultra-marathon runner. But he covered more ground as a father and husband. He carried a heavy message through life.
Never quit. Never give up hope. Always challenge your limitations. McQueeney may have been an eccentric adrenaline junkie who steered his addiction from drugs to running, but he was also wise.
"He used to say that you can't keep things forever," Vivian says. "He'd say that you have to pass them on, especially if you got something worthwhile out of it."
McQueeney's family has been told that he died as a result of complications from an abnormal heart rhythm. He really died as a result of the complications of life. He wasn't driving drunk, he was running. He wasn't living loose, he was chasing his passion. He was crossing a finish line. He ended up on his back beneath a tree.
"I was always so proud of him," Shannon says. "I still am."
John Canzano is The Oregonian's sports columnist. He can be reached at 503-294-5065; email@example.com
Immediately after the tragedy, I received the following email from friends of Scott's:
For those of you who do not know, Scott McQueeney died on Saturday after finishing the McDonald Forest 50km. At a later time, if you so request, we can send you email with more information about what happened. Sid and I have just returned from visiting with Scott McQueeney's family. Here are some thoughts and information.
Scott is an organ donor. His body has also been donated to science for education / research. He will be cremated.
A memorial service will be held for him on Friday, May 2nd, at 1 pm. The venue is the Atkinson Memorial Church, aka "the pink church," at the corner of 6th and John Adams in Oregon City. It is a Congregational-Unitarian Universalist church. The service will have an open format; people will be invited to share their thoughts about Scott. The family definitely wants Scott's friends to attend and participate. (Please note that the venue might change. We'll send an email notification if it does.)
Photos and memories for memory board
Scott's family, with help from friends, is putting together a memory board for the service. In order not to overwhelm Scott's family when there is so much to cope with and plan for, various people are coordinating different things. On this particular front, please send your digital photos and Scott stories and thoughts to Scott Diamond at firstname.lastname@example.org or please send hard copy photos to us at:
Gail and Sid Snyder
7320 SW Canyon Lane
Portland, OR 97225
Photos and memories need to be received by this Wednesday in order to have them included on the memory board. However, even if you can't have anything ready by Wednesday, please still do send your photos and thoughts. They will still be delivered to Scott's family. If possible, include a date and description with your photos.
College Education Fund
As soon as we receive consent from the family, we will be establishing a college education fund for Shannon. (We spoke with a close friend of Scott's wife about this. She thought that Vivian would like the idea, but has not yet had a chance to ask her about it.) Shannon graduates high school at the end of May and has been accepted to Evergreen College. Everyone is invited to send memorial contributions to her college fund. Checks can be made to Shannon McQueeney and sent directly to her home address. The checks will be deposited in the college account.:
Vivian / Shannon McQueeney
306 Jefferson St.
Oregon City, OR 97045
Get together on Thursday in downtown PDX. Bushwhacker Mike and Kyly have suggested that we meet on Thursday, May 1, 5:30 pm, to discuss these ideas and whatever others you might have for how we can help. The venue is the McMenamin's on NW Thurman and 23rd. And again at McDonald Forest on Saturday, Sid and I are tentatively planning on going to the Mac next Saturday afternoon to have an informal memorial. If you are interested in joining us, let us know. We can also discuss it on Thursday.
At some point in the next few weeks we would like to start a conversation about a memorial run for Scott that will also be a college tuition fundraiser for Shannon maybe the Medicine Man 50 K or 24 hour run, or something like that.
Please help spread the word about the above.
Sincerely, Gail and Sid Snyder