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Friday, April 18, 2008

Torrey Kretschman’s Last Race: Man Killed at 49ers Game Inspires Friends and Family’s Good Deed From the Grave

Posted By on Fri, Apr 18, 2008 at 8:49 AM

click to enlarge torrey_race.jpg

Torrey Kretschman, in happier days.

By Joe Eskenazi

You’ve probably never heard of Torrey Kretschman -- and if you have, it likely isn’t for a good reason. Back in December, Kretschman made national headlines when he fell to his death at Candlestick Park during halftime of a 49ers game.

The notion that Kretschman’s 31 years on earth would, in the public eye, be summed up entirely by a freak accident involving a four-foot high railing he judged to be five-feet tall weighed heavily on the Sacramento man’s loved ones. Here at The Snitch we delved a bit deeper, running a piece titled “A Man in Full: Despite Media Myopia and Internet Ghouls, Torrey Kretschman’s Life was About More Than His Death.” You can read it here.

And you know what? It turns out that Torrey Kretschman’s life continues to be about more than his death. His memory has inspired a band of friends and family to join together and run one last race for Kretschman (an accomplished marathon runner) while raising money and awareness for those he wished he could have helped – but couldn't.

“Torrey cracked me up. When we would run together, he’d always want to talk and chat while we were running. It was so easy for him. But for me, it’s hard to run and talk,” recalls Kevin McCray, Kretschman’s little brother.

McCray doesn’t say anything for a while. Then he sighs.

“This would have been something Torrey would have loved to do.”

“This” is “The Relay,” a 199-mile run from Calistoga, through San Francisco and terminating in Santa Cruz starting on Saturday, April 19 and ending (God-willing) the next day. A dozen of Torrey’s friends and family have formed “Kretschman’s Krew,” one of more than 200 teams to take part in the grueling race.

All proceeds from the Kamikaze run benefit Organs ‘R’ Us; Kretschman himself was an organ donor – yet, due to delays in performing his autopsy, he was not able to fulfill this wish.

Torrey Kretschman was the kind of guy who wanted to win – be it in a 199-mile relay or a game of foosball. He was also the kind of guy who’d pound on your door at 6 a.m. and drag you out of bed to go out and train. Even today, his pals are still inspired to – literally – go the extra mile.

“The best way I can describe it is, he was always the person pushing me to do things I would hesitate to do. He’s not even here right now, but this will be the largest run I’ve ever taken on,” says longtime friend Jason Aberlee. “There he is again, pushing me in the back.”

Adds Jacob Gray, Kretschman’s brother-in-law, “Torrey would have been the one who made sure we were all having fun. He made every situation easier with his humor and wit. And he still motivates me. Whenever I feel like hanging out with Torrey, I’ll go out running. And there’s no way I’d run this much without Torrey helping me. It seems like he’s still helping me.”

At roughly 2:30 in the morning on Sunday under cover of night, Gray will be the member of Kretschman’s Krew who runs across the Golden Gate Bridge. Fourteen hours later, the last runner will cross the finish line at the beaches of Santa Cruz. And, that evening (provided they don’t stiffen up like boards) Kretschman’s Krew will light the coals at a beachside barbecue.

It will be a chance to reflect on what they’ve accomplished together. And remember the man who brought them all there.

“Spending time with 11 close friends,” says McCray, “That would have been Torrey’s favorite part of all.”

For more information about The Relay click here. To donate to Organs ‘R’ Us visit here.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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