Darryl Kollai

Darryl Kollai

Darryl Kollai

A longtime friend of many members of the Spin/Second Sole team, Darryl Kollai, passed away on Saturday.  He was riding his bike.

Darryl’s son, Eric, has passed on some photos and words from his dad as he made his way through multisport racing here in Northeast Ohio and worldwide. It is not an exaggeration to say that our sport has lost a founding member, great athlete, and caring mentor.

This is from Darryl’s triathlon resume, written in the spring of this year for his Fat Rabbit team.  I love how he talks about his finish in Perth in the same breath as his finishes at Great Lakes Escape and Alum Creek, and how his writing is filled with exclamations as if he couldn’t wait to share his excitement:

I’ve been racing since 1982 as a triathalete, and in that time I’ve been an all American no less than ten times the year 2006 inclusive. I’ve been in three world championships and about ten National championships! My best races are a eighth place in the world at Perth Australia in 1997 in the age group! Also a forth place finish in the long course championship in Muncie Indiana in 1996. In 2007 I was third in the age group at Memphis in May triathlon and fourth in age group at Sylvania triathlon a world qualifier .I won the age group at the Alum creek triathlon and the Lake Erie great escape race both being fat rabbit races! My 2008 scheduled are still a little undecided but for now I plan to compete in the fat rabbit series and also the HFP series at the Olympic distance! As always the Memphis in May race and the Sylvania Triathlon!

In 2006, he wrote of the qualaties that would make him a good teammate, “I’m an easy going person with a life time of experience and friends in the sport!” Certainly this is an amazing understatement.

Here are some of Darryl’s notable achievements:

  • USA Triathlon National Team member, 1996-1997
  • 11th place, National Olympic Distance Championship in Cleveland, Ohio, 1996
  • 4th place in Age Group at the World Long-Course Championship in Muncie, Indiana, 1996
  • 8th place in Age Group at the World Championship in Perth, Austrailia, 1997
  • Completed 10 marathons with a PR of 3:01 at the Marine Corps in 1982.
  • All American (or honorable mention) every year since the inception of the USAT All-American program

Please read this article from the Plain Dealer for more information on Darryl’s services.  Anyone with memories to share is encouraged to leave a comment here.  Please email photos to spin.secondsole@gmail.com.  Thanks.

Click the photos below to enlarge them.

Darryl with an amazing Guerciotti

Darryl with an amazing Guerciotti

A collection of Darryl's best pics

A collection of Darryl

Darryl and Eric (from Valerie Watson)

Darryl and Eric (from Valerie Watson)

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13 Responses

  1. I am very sad. More like stunned to sorrow. It’s like part of my past has vanished.

    Darryl Kollai name was well known to me early in my triathlon career. Mostly by race results. He was the “older” dude who was always kicking my ass in races, but I didn’t know what he looked like. I even congratulated Scott McGill(before I knew Scott) at the Willoughby Duathlon years ago saying, “good job, Darryl.” Scott looked at me kinda funny and ultimately ignored my remark. I didn’t realize there were two “older” guys wiping my butt!

    I believe Darryl and I were properly introduced at the Muncie Endurathon. I recall it was 95 degrees and no wetsuits were allowed because the water was like a bathtub. That’s bad for me. Needless to say, Darryl kicked ass again.

    I’m now one of the elder members of the SSSMT. Darryl has been an inspiration to me all these years. Before I was married and had three boys, I always looked at Darryl’s work ethic in multisport in conjunction to being a father. He was always the picture of a triathlete. He also has a wonderful family. I hope my young children turn out as well as his.

    Part of my past history is over, and time clock will go on.
    I ran today and thought of Darryl, Muncie, Willoughby, Scott McGill and the many of you all that will always be in my mind.

    Marty Mason

  2. For those of you who didn’t know Darryl Kollai, we lost a very good
    brother on the weekend.
    Darryl started riding with our old Bayside (precursor to the Second
    Sole group rides, and ultimately the Spin ride) group back in the
    mid-1990’s. He was just about hitting his prime about that time, and,
    as an early 40-something, he was in better shape than just about
    anyone else around. At one time he had been a fairly heavy smoker, so
    seeing him in action was pretty remarkable.

    My first real encounter with Darryl was sitting in behind him as he
    pulled the entire pack of us up some hill out near Valley City, in the
    saddle, on the aerobars, and in the big chainring. Not that going
    uphill in the big ring was a big deal to me, but there was no let up
    in his cadence or speed after cresting the top of that hill. The guy
    was brutal, and there was no one I had seen do that before. So here I
    am, ready to lose my cookies and thinking “Who is this old guy with
    the wife-beater on, kicking our asses??!!!” He continued

    Although he experienced some heart problems several years ago, Darryl
    was back to cranking the pace up on Wednesday nights, and was racing a
    fair amount this year. He had been riding with Frank Pattison and
    myself just about every week this summer, and his presence both out
    training and at races will be very sorely missed.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Darryl’s family. He was one of the
    best.

  3. Darryl has been a part of my triathlon team for two years as the Smokin’ Fast Multisport Team, and before that on the Fat Rabbit Racing Team. He has been an inspiration to all of us and we are absolutely stunned by the this news. He will be missed and his place with in our team, and in our hearts, will never be filled.

    I have a great photo of Darryl and his son, Eric, that I would like to share on your website. Please contact me to let me know how I can do so.

    I spoke with Eric today and he is grateful for all your thoughts and prayers. I’m sure he would love to hear from those of you that knew his father. tri_ecoli@hotmail.com

  4. It’s been three days and I still cannot believe that Darryl is gone. I’ll give my oldest memory of Darryl here although I have a million things I could share.

    When I decided many years ago to give triathlon a whirl, I was a very out of shape former swimmer. During the summer of what I remember to be 1999, I was a 24 year old and joined a masters swim team in Lakewood. I had gone a couple of times and started to feel pretty good and get my stroke back. Within a week or so, I showed up to practice and this old dude showed up and got in my lane. As I turned at the 50 meter mark of warm up this old guy was on my feet like a leech and I thought, “after I’m warmed up a little, I’ll shake him no problem”. Wrong. As I picked up the pace, this guy picked up the pace until I eventually was swimming as hard as I could just to stay ahead of him. At the end of practice, he introduced himself (not a word was spoken before then) as Darryl Kollai.

    I told Darryl that night that I planned on doing a triathlon and he told me that he had “done a few”. Real modest I might add. Later that summer I signed up for my first race, the sprint race at the old National City Triathlon. Darryl gave me some training tips and invited me to a ride at Second Sole in Rocky River. I showed up and managed to hang on for about 5-6 miles of the 52 mile weekly ride.

    With the help of Darryl and his son Eric I went on to complete the triathlon that summer. It turned out this guy who had “done a few” not only won his age group in the olympic distance race but also finished in the top 10 of what was easily one of the biggest (and most important) triathlons in the United States at that time. Little did I know, but Darryl was one of the best amateurs in the sport WORLDWIDE.

    One day the next week, after changing a flat tire for me, Darryl invited me over to his Old Brooklyn home to learn some simple bike maintenance stuff. It turned out that it was during his lunch break from the Water Department. That morning, he had run to work, worked four hours or so, came home to fix my bike (and show me how to change a tire) and hook me up with Eric for a personal butt whooping of a bike ride! I’ll never forget that day. I couldn’t believe how much Darryl was able to pack into a day. He went back to work that afternoon.

    Not long after the Kollai’s moved out to Brecksville, the Second Sole ride sort of faded away. Eric had gone on to Medical School and Darryl didn’t find it as easy to come out to the west side for a weeknight ride. It had been a few years since I got to ride with Darryl but this summer, it was suggested that we try to get back to the past. Excitedly, I called Darryl one day this summer and was happy to find out that he was going to make it. He’ll never know how much it made my day when he actually showed up. True to the old days, Eric showed up by his side and the two of them rode like they were never away from the rough Lorain/Medina county course.

    Eric went back to Hawaii soon after that but the ride continued on. My wife delivered Luca on June 21st and I never made it to another one this summer. But my lasting memory of my good friend Darryl happened about 3 weeks ago tommorow. He called to rag on me for not showing up “just cause I had a kid”. Of course he was kidding and told me the true reason he was calling was to find out how fatherhood was going. He clearly had it figured out and never passed on an opportunity to let others know how proud of his kids he was. I will miss Darryl and will always think of him fondly and thank him for helping to get me into this sport. He was the epitome of what the world of triathlon is all about. Loving father, husband and athlete. I will always think of Darryl everytime I swim, bike or run!

  5. My deepest sympathies and condolences go out to Daryll’s wife Susan and the rest of the family. As with the many who have posted already, I also spent many a Wednesday night chasing Daryll all around the west side. The one thing I remember the most about Daryll was his consistency. We always knew he would show up for the ride. We always knew he would pull like a wild man. We also knew he would never try to drop us, even though he could at any minute. He rode hard and loved every minute he spent on his bike. He was a great friend, competitor and teacher.

    Daryll took a group of average triathletes and made them really good triathletes. I doubt he has any idea how much impact he had on so many lives. Its the way he lived his life.

    THANK YOU DARYLL, YOU WERE A GREAT PERSON, FRIEND, AND COMPETITOR. BUT MOST OF ALL YOU WERE A GREAT FAMILY MAN.

  6. I met Darryl sometime in the early 1990’s when he was training with the O*H*I*O Masters Swim Team in Lakewood.

    Darryl was a relentless competitor who inspired everyone around him.

    Always the joker, Darryl would brush off his latest victory with a laugh, ignore the 5 or 10 second interval between swimmers, and launch into the next practice set…

    Darryl, we love you and miss you.

    John Callahan

  7. Thank you for all the kind words about my father. He and I both loved riding with the group out of second sole. It was a highlight of my trip home from oahu to ride with the group in June. He really did consider you guys to be an extended family more than training partners. All the kind words spread over the internet have been very helpfull in our healing process. We are trying to celebrate him and his amazing abilities as a person and an athlete. I especially love to hear about the mentoring. He loved teaching “Bike 101” and training athletes ranging from mediocre to professional. I look forward to riding with the group sometime soon and maybe even taking a few big pulls in his honor. We are of course sad and devastated, but we are trying to celebrate him in a big way. You are all of course extremely welcome. I would love to hear more stories about good times and long rides with my father. Thank you so much for your support.

  8. Thank You all for loving and respecting my husband.

    Love to all
    Susan D Kollai

  9. I used to run into Darryl at every multi sport event I raced in Ohio.
    I last saw Darryl at the Clark Lake Triathlon near Jackson Michigan. We had our photograph taken together while eating post race water mellon.
    God’s speed Darryl!

  10. It is so sad to hear the news of another Tri-family member passing. Darryl was a tenacious racer who was always prepared for whatever type of race we were doing. He was ever graceful in victory. If his name appeared on the start list you could be sure there was a quality race about to take place. Darryl and I had many races together and I’m quite sure he won more against me than I did against him. He was not a person that you disliked losing to though. He was just very good. I have also had the pleasure of meeting the Kollai family. My family’s prayers will go out to them during this difficult time. Life is so precious. Again, we have lost a fine person, friend and triathlete. Things will not be the same.
    Sadly,
    Randy

  11. Wow. I just heard the news. I’ve been away from the multi-sport world for a few years, but I got an e-mail with this link from Keith Gomez I’ll always remember Darryl. We were HFP teammates back in the day. Everyone knows what a great athlete he was, but I learned what a great family man he was many years ago when the World Championships were in Cleveland. I lived in Columbus then, and Darryl invited me to stay at his house for the race. He and Susan were incredible hosts. The night before a world championships when most focus on themselves, all Darryl could talk about was what a great runner his son was becoming and rightfully predicted that the younger Kollai would be beating the old man soon. What a great guy.

  12. I am truly amazed, humbled, and inspired by everyone’s memories of my dad. As a kid he seemed larger than life and at 34 I am in awe of his strength. His grandchildren my, husband, and I watched him place second overall in a Triatholon last summer. I was so proud as we cheered for grandpa. People around us could not believe the man we were screaming for was really grandpa. I will keep his memory alive in myself and my children when we feel like we do not have the strength for that final sprint. I am sure he will always be with us pushing us to dig deep for the big finish.

  13. Dear Friends Of Darryl Kollai.

    Its is going on a year now. Know that Darryl is with each and every one of you. Cheering you on in your accomplishments and sharing in your loses. Thank You for the Love of my husband. Sue

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