We received the terrible news that Don Olson passed away Thursday night after a lengthy battle with cancer. Don was an absolute joy to be around. He loved, I mean, LOVED to talk triathlon so he had a friend in me. In the above pic (from L-R) - Susan, John (Beast), Don, and me.
Don joined us for our annual Muskoka Training Weekend in 2011 and 2012. We were introduced to him by Beast - they worked at Husky together and had a great training group there. My initial impressions of Don were that he was a positive happy dude who was incredibly strong. He could really power on the bike!
Here's Don after a great day of training on the dock at Clyffe House on Mary Lake in Port Sydney. Beside him is Linda (Don's lovely wife), then Sheila (wife of Beast) and me. I remember the day well - it was absolutely gorgeous. Don has a book in his hand - he was reading Ironwar which detailed the famous 1989 Hawaii Ironman battle between Mark Allen and Dave Scott. We talked at length about that race and the amazing performances of these Ironman legends. It was a great afternoon of beers and triathlon talk!
The next day was long run day. From L-R are Linda, Don, Beast, me and Sheila. The plan was 20k. We found a 5K loop that we would do rounds of. It was great because the ladies could tag along on bikes for as long as they'd like and the terrain was not too bad. Don went for a couple of laps as well. Despite fatigue from his treatment he was always game to get out and bike and run.
Linda had some bike issues but Don quickly got things repaired and we were back on track. An amazing couple!
This pic is actually from the 2011 weekend but I like how happy we look after an epic 100 mile ride. From L-R: Tom, Beast, me, Evan, Peter, and Don (great pic of him).
With each Muskoka Training Weekend we always go out to dinner on the Sunday night. We all went to Deerhurst's Eclipse restaurant (sight of G-8 meeting). Great pic of Linda and Don and Sheila and Beast out front. This picture was in late May 2012 and Don, despite all his health challenges, did Ironman Florida in 16:44. He clearly could not train properly for the race but had the will to overcome and complete the challenge. I admire his strength, his positive nature, and the joy he demonstrated in his pursuit of endurance sports. I only knew Don for a short time but his memory will remain with me for a long time.