By Teal Connor Burrell
Last week, our team suffered another devastating loss: on June 3rd, our teammate Nina was killed in a house fire.
Nina was one of those people that seem to defy the laws of time and the limits of energy. She worked her butt off at absolutely everything she did, and she accomplished a lot in her short 25 years. Last month, she graduated from Georgetown with a Masters in Arab Studies and she was gearing up to head to the Middle East on a Fulbright scholarship. She walked onto the Dartmouth track and cross-country teams in college and joined GRC after graduation. Although she struggled with injuries during her time on GRC, she was an absolute fighter. At practice she would latch onto the pack and not let go. It was sometimes obvious how hard the pace was, but she fought with everything she had to stick to it. Dreaming big doesn’t get you anywhere without a work ethic to match, and Nina had the biggest.
It’s not fair that Nina won’t have a chance to go after her goals—both in running and in her career. Her Fulbright involved studying women’s running in Jordan, hoping to promote the sport as a way to empower women. As part of her Masters studies, she spent a year in the Middle East, originally settling in Egypt in the summer of 2013. When unrest broke out, she was forced to evacuate to Jordan but wrote us that she didn’t want to leave; she felt safe and wanted to stay to continue her studies. I think that attitude sums up Nina – her work ethic, her bravery, her optimism. She always saw the absolute best in people, and she worked incredibly hard to help people however she could.
While in Jordan, she ran—and won—her first half marathon. In her email after the race, she wrote about how she was excited that she ran well, but noted, “The best part of the day was sharing it with the people I love most here in Jordan.”
Isn’t that the best part of all running? Races are celebrations of hard work, and they’re best shared with the friends that have logged those miles with you, that have shared your dreams and aspirations, that have stuck—huffing and puffing—on your tail through every lung-busting interval. Running has given me some of my best friends—people who make the victories seem sweeter and the defeats sting less.
Which makes it devastating to lose one of those friends. Please keep Nina’s family, friends, and teammates all over the world in your thoughts and prayers.
We’ll miss you, Nina. May we remember you always by trying to live more like you did: bravely, positively, with a heart full of kindness, always willing to help however possible.
Dream as big as Nina did,