My connections with the Gerding family stretch back to Texas Christian University. Going to school with Mike, and connected as local Young Life club leaders, he would share stores about growing up and fishing in New Mexico.
When he heard that my career in television news was taking me to Albuquerque, Mike was excited to suggest I connect with his dad and go fishing. Unpacking boxes in my apartment, I learned through a local PBS program that his dad was the preeminent authority on fishing in New Mexico!
Bob is a great angler and even a better friend. He invited me to join his family and friends in a one fly tournament on Mount Taylor, west of Albuquerque. It was a great time and I even won a Sage fly rod on a $5 raffle ticket. Another highlight was dry fly fishing under the night sky using only the sound of a slurp as a strike indicator.
For the last year Bob as been receiving treatment for cancer, the same illness that took his daughter, Mike’s sister and my friend Laura.
When I heard about the Mount Taylor Ultra Marathon, it was only natural that I’d run it for Bob, giving him my one medal. Earlier in the year, I completed the Big Bend Ultra Marathon but that was nothing even close to the challenge of Mount Taylor. Plagued by injury and haunted by time, I missed a final cutoff and did not finish the race. While I completed an ultra distance of 27 miles, there was no medal to show or give to Bob.
Three weeks after the Mount Taylor debacle, I completed the Duke City Half Marathon for Bob and for me. And while the Duke City organizers only provide a finishers pin instead of a medal, I can now sit down with Bob and share some stories how it took two races to give him the finish that was promised.