How We Began
When 15-year-old Brittany Groover was killed in a car accident in late 2002, her father, Tim Groover, sought the comfort of family and friends. Particularly significant was a gathering with family members Geb and David Broman and family friend Mick Gunter, whose mother, Karla Bolen, had also died in a car accident. “Geb, David, and Mick were talking about how devastating Brittany’s loss was,” explains Groover. “Compounding this was Mick’s realization that he had never felt a sense of healing after his mother’s death. The three of them realized that there must be lots of people feeling similar pain and they wondered what they could do to help our small group heal, as well as give others an opportunity to honor their lost loved ones.”
The result was a gathering of about 80 people, most with Brittany’s name written on their arm, to honor the Jefferson Forest High School student at the the first Angels Race Triathlon in Lynchburg. The Angels Race Virginia has been an annual event since 2003 in Lynchburg, soon the Angels Race North Carolina was added in Winston-Salem, Gunter’s hometown. Each race is dedicated to honoring the memory of participants’ family and friends, along with raising money for the Angels Foundation, which supports programs that encourage students, teachers, and organizations to be a positive force in children’s lives. The foundation’s primary beneficiaries are the Brittany Groover Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Karla Bolen Memorial Fund, both of which promote educational opportunities.
The sport of triathlon, like life, is as much a competition with self as it is with other athletes. The Angels Race is an opportunity to challenge yourself to give it your best, and to honor those who inspired you to become who you are, and who you seek to be.
Participants write the name of the angel they are honoring on their body during body marking, and carry the spirit of that person throughout the race. Many are inspired to their best performance, some resolve grief or celebrate a lost angel while others recognize the significance of someone currently in their life. For everyone, it is more than just a race.