Mukilteo man runs to honor friend

Craig Sylvester to compete in Leadville 100 Run in Colorado
By Brandon Gustafson | Jul 11, 2018
Courtesy of: Craig Sylvester Craig Sylvester on the final stretch of one of his past Ironman finishes.

If you live in Mukilteo, there’s a high chance you’ve seen Craig Sylvester on one of his runs.

Like many people, Sylvester, a father of four, runs to stay in shape.  But he also runs to keep alive the spirit of his friend, Ryan Correy.

“I was in Monterey, California, where I was stationed for the Navy 16 years ago when I met Ryan,” Sylvester said. “I was on my bike training for an Ironman competition, and I rode up on this 19-year-old kid by a baseball field.”

Sylvester thought Correy was leaving baseball practice, but upon talking to him, learned he’d actually just completed the last leg of a cross-country bike trip for cancer. The conversation sparked a friendship between the two.

“That chance and very brief interaction we had on a bike path as Ryan rode through on the final leg of his around-the-country bike ride to raise money for cancer turned out to be life-changing,” Sylvester said.

Correy would go on to ride his bike all across North America, and even hold some world records along the way.

“He was hardcore,” Sylvester said. “Actually, that’s an understatement. His dad had taught him about bike adventures. They rode across Canada in what his dad called ‘manhood training.’ He was just such a humble guy.”

Correy was diagnosed with stage-4 colon cancer in 2017.

“When he first got diagnosed, he was driven to overcome it,” Sylvester said. “He kept saying, ‘It’s just another race.’ He went through 10 rounds of chemo, and he and his wife live-streamed it through Facebook. He was very open, honest, and raw about the whole deal.”

Correy died on April 28, 2018, after a nine-month battle with the cancer, which spread to his lungs and other vital organs.

“His dad said at his celebration that there wasn’t a single day that he complained,” Sylvester said. “It was really sad and really humbling to see someone go through that.”

To keep Correy’s memory and spirit alive, Sylvester is doing something hardcore as well.

He is participating in the Leadville Trail 100 Run on Aug. 18, a 100-mile ultramarathon in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

“The idea to do the race came up last year when he was diagnosed,” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘What if someone told me I only had six months to live?’ I’ve known about the race for many years, and you have to qualify for it. I knew right away that nothing was going to stop me.”

Sylvester and other competitors will have 30 hours to complete the 100-mile race, which is running over a mountain and back.

“I think the typical completion rate is less than 50 percent,” Sylvester said. “The main reason is because of the altitude.”

Sylvester is going to Colorado two weeks before the race to get acclimated to the altitude, which ranges between 9,200 and 12,620 feet.

“My focus is getting in the best shape I can, showing up fit, and completing the race,” Sylvester said.

It’s a family affair for Sylvester also, as his wife, kids, and some extended family are making the trip.

To train for the race, Sylvester spends a lot of his free time running the streets of Mukilteo, particularly in Harbour Pointe and at Lighthouse Park.

“It’s a great way to learn about the city and meet new people,” he said. “I’m trying to do everything as close to home as possible.”

Sylvester averages over 50 miles a week, with nearly all of them coming Friday through Sunday. Sylvester says you never know what you’ll experience on a run.

“I saw this massive coyote just a few weeks before the black bear was in town,” Sylvester said. “It’s interesting what you’ll see out there.”

Sylvester said it’s nice seeing familiar faces on his runs, whether it’s someone on their lawn, or someone doing maintenance work down at the Mukilteo beach.

“I just really enjoy being outdoors and meeting and talking to people,” he said. “I see lots of familiar faces.”

Sylvester is using the race as a way to raise money for First Descents, a nonprofit organization that gives free outdoor experiences to people battling cancer.

“I keep thinking about Ryan’s message and how he went about life,” Sylvester said. “I’ll do anything I can do to spread what he wanted to spread. He met and touched so many people on his journey.”

Sylvester is still blown away by how a brief encounter in Monterey, California, impacted him to the point where he’s now training for a 100-mile ultramarathon.

“Something as simple as a friendly conversation can be so impacting,” Sylvester said.

If you’d like to donate to Sylvester’s fundraiser, visit https://support.firstdescents.org/fundraiser/1234385.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.