“It’s nice to be by my­self and have my thoughts of Nathan”

Triathlon Plus - - We’re Inspired By... -

When David Missen, 47, got up for work on 19 Au­gust 2010, he no­ticed his 18-year- old son’s bed was empty. There was noth­ing too un­usual about it as Nathan had been to visit his girl­friend, Kirsty, who lived in nearby Wis­bech, and of­ten he stayed over.

“Nathan worked shifts,” says David, a swim­ming pool main­te­nance en­gi­neer who lives in Over, Cam­bridgeshire. “He of­ten drove over to see his girl­friend, but he usu­ally slept at home. I told my wife, Tracy, about it and left to go to work.”

Tracy made a few phone calls to see if Nathan had stayed at his girl­friend’s, or with his aunt, who also lived in the area, but no one had seen him.

David picked up his van from work and turned the ra­dio on.

“I heard there’d been an ac­ci­dent about four miles from our house, and some­thing in my head said it wasn’t right,” ex­plains David. “Some­thing in­side me said I had to go there and see it. I drove straight there and went right to where the po­lice signs were.”

When David ar­rived, he could see a car had hit a tree and had cat­a­pulted into the hedge. Heart­break­ingly, de­spite it be­ing 60 per cent burned, he recog­nised the car straight away as Nathan’s gold Vaux­hall Corsa.

“I knew the car as soon as I saw it,” re­calls David. “I walked up to the re­cov­ery guy who was get­ting the car on the ramp of the re­cov­ery truck and asked if the per­son driv­ing the car was OK. He asked who I was and I said: ‘I’m the fa­ther’.”

David was ush­ered over to the po­lice, who ex­plained they hadn’t been able to work out who the vic­tim was be­cause he’d been so badly burned. David, how­ever, had no doubt. “I thought: Oh my God, here we go,” he re­mem­bers. His brother-in­law, Dolph, picked him up from the scene of the ac­ci­dent and took him home to break the tragic news to Tracy and his other son, Danny, now 26.

David learned his son had fallen asleep at the wheel of his car, which had then hit a tree and ex­ploded.

In the hours and days that fol­lowed, David had to do what no par­ent ever wants to: for­mally iden­tify his son and set about ar­rang­ing the funeral.

It was a cou­ple of months af­ter the ac­ci­dent that David took up run­ning.

Be­fore Nathan’s death he’d been a Sun­day morn­ing cy­clist, but now he was look­ing for a big­ger es­cape from his grief.

He ex­plains: “I’ll go for a run on my own if I’m feel­ing low. Then I can come back as a dif­fer­ent per­son, more re­laxed. I found it a way of eas­ing the sad­ness and pain I was feel­ing.”

David en­tered a half marathon in De­cem­ber 2010 and, spurred on by his boss, Dan, who is a keen triath­lete, he joined Cam­bridge Triathlon Club the fol­low­ing month.

David went on to race New­mar­ket duathlon later in the year and then won a place at the Lon­don Marathon in 2012, which he com­pleted in just over five hours.

“I raised £6000 for Andy’s Ark, which is a char­ity that helps chil­dren get­ting into work,” says David. “Nathan had dys­praxia and he used to go to Andy’s garage once a week straight from school to do work ex­pe­ri­ence. I wanted to put some­thing back into that be­cause he’d helped Nathan so much.”

It was af­ter that that David’s fo­cus on triathlon sharp­ened.

“Dan and I spoke about it and we de­cided to book Graf­man – a half dis­tance triathlon, but I had a long way to go. I could cy­cle and run and I thought I could swim,” ex­plains David. “But the first time I got into the pool, I did a length and felt ex­hausted. Dan just looked at me and said, ‘we’ll have to teach you to swim’.”

David trained hard and lined up at Graf­man 2012, how­ever, the weeks be­fore the race, he’d been knocked out with a sick­ness bug.

“I got the swim out of the way. I then got on the bike, but had to pull out af­ter 10 miles. I’d been ill a week lead­ing up to it with a sick­ness bug, I was re­ally bad on the bike and had to keep rush­ing to the toi­let. I went to the doc­tor the next day and he told me I had a re­ally bad vi­ral in­fec­tion. I was so dis­ap­pointed.”

Dan sug­gested that as David had done the train­ing, they do a lo­cal Olympic dis­tance triathlon in Cam­bridge in May. David com­pleted it in 1:53:56.

“I felt proud that I’d ac­tu­ally done it, that I could achieve some­thing like that,” re­mem­bers David. He then went on to en­ter Graf­man the fol­low­ing year, and fin­ished in a time of just over seven hours. In 2014, he com­pleted it in just un­der seven hours and he com­pleted his third Graf­man in 6hrs 40mins. In 2016, David fin­ished

Nathan’s death left an in­deli­ble mark on David’s life, lead­ing him to triathlon

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.