‘Touched Many Hearts': Beloved Spartan Racer Dies of COVID-19 Complications

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A beloved Air Force veteran, who's cheery smile was often seen at obstacle course races across the West Coast, has died from the novel coronavirus.

His fiance, Carol Althoff, said he would have been 55 years old next week. Althoff shared the last conversation she had with Williams before he was put on a ventilator.

“I love you. I’ll be fine. The kids, your kids will be fine. Everyone will take care of them,” Althoff promised Williams.

She said the days leading up to William's diagnosis, he was very lethargic.

“He was very tired, but he had no cough, no shortness of breath, nothing that would really say, 'hey, I have COVID,'” she explained.

But she said his extreme fatigue was enough of a red flag to take him to the emergency room.

“You drop your loved one off and you don’t really know what happens after that,” Althoff said.

She said Williams spent the next 10 days in the Intensive Care Unit. His last four days were spent on a ventilator. Althoff said eventually his body couldn't fight anymore.

“I was worried about my parents getting it. Not Derik, for sure,” Althoff said.

For many, it's a brutal reminder that the coronavirus has not gone away. Doctors still know so little about how the virus attacks its victims. Williams, who is usually able to push his body to the limit while competing in Spartan races, was not able to defeat COVID-19.

“He loved his fitness, he loved competing in spartan races,” Althoff said.

"Derick Williams touched many hearts on and off the racecourse throughout the (obstacle racecourse) community. However, his spirit will forever be felt by the countless lives he impacted," the organizers of a 5K Run/10K Cycle dedication race and fundraiser wrote in a post.

The group asks participants to run in Williams' honor on what would have been his 55th birthday on July 28. To join, visit here.

Separately, the gym he attended, NXPT La Mesa, is hosting a socially distanced, outdoor workout to raise funds for Williams' family on Saturday. For more information click here.

Two GoFundMe pages were also created to raise funds for funeral expenses. GoFundMe has verified that both will get funds for the Williams family. Donate here or here.

A virtual memorial will also be held on what would have been Williams' birthday on Tuesday.

“Allowing them (his children) to see how much their father was loved and how much he cared about people on the spartan courses. His favorite thing was to find one of the slowest people on the Spartan course and help them get up that last mountain or carry that last sandbag. This Spartan memorial will show his kids what kind of man he was and that they can be proud that he was their father,” Althoff said.

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