By Riley Holcraft, Staff Writer–
The Cameron Bean Memorial Run is an annual, competitive, all-day running event that takes place near Moccasin Bend in Chattanooga on a Saturday in August. With award ceremonies, food-eating, and raffle-winning in between, the day is fully packed in remembrance of a serious accident that took place in the same area four years earlier.
In September of 2015, retired professional steeplechase runner Cameron Bean clocked out of his shift at Fast Break Athletics after staying late to help a customer. He went for a run near Moccasin Bend and was struck from behind; the driver was identified as a worker from the neighboring Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute. Bean died from the collision-inflicted injuries a few days later.
“[Cam] was very dynamic. From the moment he came to work for us, he connected with every customer and staff. He was beloved by everyone,” stated the owner of Fast Break Athletics and former Employer of Bean, Alan Outlaw. “Everyone says this about him, but he was just totally infectious to be around. His positive attitude was infectious.”
Bean’s passion for running and positivity did not disappear with his passing. He had a strong belief in his community and family, and this race allows that faith to live on. Further, The Cameron Bean Memorial Foundation is a non-profit that sponsors an annual community race, funds a Cameron Bean Leadership Scholarship through Samford University, and donates running gear to underprivileged families in the community.
The Factory 5K is the last race that Bean ran and won before his death, so his family, along with Fast Break Athletics, re-named the event in commemoration of his life. The 2019 Cam Run 5K and Kid’s 1 Mile Run was a heavily attended event that brought together the community in Bean’s honor. 550 participants gathered on the morning of Saturday, August 24th to engage in the activity that Cameron himself loved the most.
“Our number one goal is to connect a running community with one another,” says Outlaw. “The human connection is important. This race would not exist except for tragedy, and there are lots of causes out there that you can contribute it to. But the most important thing is to bring the community of determined runners together to simply enjoy each other.”
A whole assembly of families, friends, independent runners, and onlookers gathered on Saturday to spend time in each other’s company and compete for prizes. Willy Fink claimed victory with a finish time of 14:42, marking him with a pace of nearly 4:44 minutes per mile. The first woman to finish was Gina Rouse, who crossed the line at 17:57. Both runners, along with the other top finishers, competed in the Magnum Mile, which takes place at Girls Preparatory School, and Willy Fink again took the crown in that race. His mile time was the fastest ever recorded in Chattanooga at a time of just 4 minutes and 1.7 seconds.
Through the annual Cam Run, the Chattanooga running, active, and outdoor communities will continue to come together to commemorate Cameron for years to come. Further, through the efforts made by Fast Break and Cameron’s Foundation and Scholarship, his family and former workplace continue to positively impact local lives and give back to the community.