904’s Fittest: Jared Bynum
I first met Jared Bynum several years ago through Personal Running Solutions (PRS) when his wife Kelli, an avid runner, dragged him to a group run.
It’s not that Jared was averse to exercise: Matter of fact, he was already in great shape, but running was just never his “thing.” However, Kelli loved running—and he loved Kelli—so Jared would learn to love it too.
Like most things he attempted in life, Jared excelled at the sport. It wasn’t long before he started racing in 5Ks, which led to half-marathons, marathons and triathlons. Earlier this year, he decided to truly test his mettle by competing in the ultimate fitness challenge, an Ironman Triathlon.
For those of you who don’t know, the Ironman encompasses a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run. It’s a brutal event for professional athletes, let alone a full-time project manager with a local architecture, engineering and construction company who had only recently started running competitively. But that was Jared. He wasn’t a mere participant in life: He was passionate about everything he did. Whether it was his involvement with Southside Baptist Church or Landon Middle School’s mentoring program, singing and playing guitar for friends and family, or traveling the globe with Kelli, he lived every day full of joy and love. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone so positive and so full of life.
In October, Jared was in the final stretch of his training for this month’s Ironman in Panama City. As part of his last major training exercise, he ran a half-marathon on a Saturday with a group from PRS, and on Sunday, he and a friend embarked on a 100-mile bike ride. It was 7:30 in the morning, and the pair were on Nocatee Parkway in St. Johns County 30 miles into their trek. And then tragedy struck. A 21-year-old woman driving a Honda SUV behind the two cyclists was unable to see them because of the sun—and accidentally hit Jared. Then, just like that, it was over. Jared Bynum, beloved husband of Kelli, devoted friend, esteemed coworker and life-changing mentor was dead.
When I first heard the news, I couldn’t believe it. “That’s not possible. I just saw him yesterday,” I thought to myself. “ He’s the most ‘alive’ person I know. He can’t be dead.”
All of the members of PRS, those who were close to Jared, as well as those who had ever even met him, were devastated by the news. Only 30 years old, Jared has so much life ahead of him—and so much to live for.
As I reflect on the last few weeks, the accident, the support and community, and Jared himself, I truly believe we can be at peace that Jared truly was a man who lived with a passion and loved with all of his heart.
In honor of Jared, I encourage each of you to “Live. Run. Finish well!”