It was a hot day in Ancol for the Adidas race. I was breaking down around six kilometres in the race when I heard a Dutch voice from behind saying, “Come on, keep going, let’s run together.” I ran side by side with this big guy with an even bigger smile, and thanks to his encouragement I dug deeper and we managed to pass the finish line together.
In the years to follow, Douwe became one of the well-known runners in Jakarta and lots of runners have had the pleasure of running with him. He was always in for some fun during the run – exploring, chatting, taking selfies.
He mobilized a team to run for charity, running 24 hours on a treadmill, and he participated in the Rotterdam Marathon every year without fail. This year he finished his first “Ultra” with the 89km Comrades Marathon. There was no stopping Douwe with his indomitable spirit to keep going.
We were continuously challenging each other on Nike+, tracking each other’s runs and distances, as well as during the weekly runs of Jakarta Free Spirit through the kampungs of Jakarta. Sometimes I was a bit stronger; many times Douwe was the stronger runner. But we always stayed close together, enjoying the easy camaraderie. It was this effortless knack he had of connecting with whoever he met that made Douwe a great friend to many.
On one fateful day, everything changed. During one of his training runs, a tragic accident took Douwe away from us.
The running community in Jakarta grieves for the loss of our running friend. Our runs will not be the same as before. But each of us is grateful that our lives have been touched by him in some way or another.
Our hearts go out to Douwe’s wife, Desiree and their son, Kaay.