After the death on Thursday night in Savannah, Georgia of former RunTex manager Robert Espinoza at the age of 54, many in the Austin running community who knew Robert were left in mourning and wondering what could possibly have caused his premature death.
As of Monday morning, there is no clarity or explanation. Espinoza had recently completed an Ironman triathlon and Fleet Feet Savannah employees said his health appeared to be fine. Robert and his wife Cookie were co-owners of the store which opened in 2002. Cookie has told employees that the store will remain open.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced, but it will probably be later in the week.
On Saturday morning in Savannah, hundreds of runners gathered for a “Miles for Robert” run in his honor.
Espinoza had been key in building a running and racing community in Savannah which, prior to Robert’s arrival, didn’t have much of a racing culture. Said Tommy Speidel, the former executive director of the Southside YMCA in Savannah, “To this day, I’ve never seen anybody so involved and passionate about putting on races for a community as Robert. There’s now 40 races a year in Savannah and probably 75 percent of them wouldn’t be in existence without Robert Espinoza.”
“Robert left a legacy,” said Savannah runner Cassie Cercy. “He really was a visionary and a pioneer in this fitness community and he will live on.”
Said Savannah businessman Dale Critz Jr., who worked with Espinoza to save the Tybee Marathon from extinction, “Over the past 13 years, not just with our race, Savannah developed a robust running community and fitness culture. We’ve emerged as a premier running destination with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon which can all be traced back to Robert and him moving to Savannah and opening Fleet Feet in 2002.”