June 26, 2008
Non-Runner Dies While Not Running
A Mississippi man died yesterday while not running in a local marathon.
Les Actiff, 43, of Jackson, Miss., collapsed while watching television in his Hattiesburg home. Attempts to revive him failed, and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
He was still clutching a bucket of fried chicken.
Like 25% of the U.S. population, Actiff was obese. Federal statistics show that nearly a third of U.S. adults 20 years and older are obese; about two-thirds are overweight. Actiff had been a non-runner for more than 20 years, according to his family and friends.
Family members were stunned.
"I don't get it," said his wife, Bess. "He didn't run all his life. He was always so inactive. And now, this. You just never know, I guess."
"At least he died doing what he loved," she added. "Not running."
Spectators gathered outside Actiff's home were similarly shocked.
"I'll never not run," said one woman. "It's too dangerous."
A large man on a scooter, out walking his dog, was more fatalistic: "If you can avoid doing a single positive thing for your health your whole life, just sit around like a lump and eat poorly and then still drop dead... Well, I just don't know. I guess when it's your time, it's your time."
Actiff appears to have died from atherosclerotic heart disease, according to Lamar County Coroner Paul Caste.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, at the Pizza Hut off of I-59.
First off, I did not write this piece. It is from a blog entry in Runnersworld. If you haven't gathered, it is supposed to be a satire. However, is it really? Many in the running community have been upset that when an athlete dies suddenly in a running event, headlines asking whether running is safe appear everywhere.
It's interesting reading the comments from this entry. Some people found this incredibly hilarious, in the same liking as the satirical Onion. Others found it not funny, in poor taste, and felt like it was being critical of obese people.
There is no doubt good satire is funny with proper taste. However, weight, obesity, personal lifestyle tends to tread on a fine line. Maybe I'm a bit sensitive when it comes to these topics. I know I've preached this before but I truly do believe education, awareness, and helpful strategies have a better chance at providing lasting change in any avenue of life.