Daniel Connell ran nine marathons, and after each one he vowed to never do it again.
"It's just too much," the Rev. Jerry Fehn quoted him as saying.
But a few months later, Connell, who lived in Minneapolis, would learn of another race, and he'd be back training.
"He had to run," Fehn said. "Something inside him made him continue to persevere."
It was while training last spring that Connell learned he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer, according to a GoFundMe page that raised money for his medical care.
He was 35 years old when he died on Dec. 14.
A regional beer buyer for Target Corp. — the company's first, in fact — Connell had wit and style. "His flair with socks and pocket squares" was noted by a friend last week. He loved death metal music, too.
Connell grew up in Duluth, and as a youngster attended Piedmont Elementary. There, a teacher traced his "larger-than-life personality" to the fourth grade. He wrote with humor, the teacher recalled, and often could be seen carrying a stack of Stephen King books.
He graduated with a business degree from the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus and began working at Target in 2006.
In 2014, Connell got the nod as regional beer buyer — a dream job, he acknowledged, although not an easy one, according to an in-house Target report.
"The tricky part is every city, town and market is fiercely loyal to its own set of local and craft labels, so across the map, our assortments have to look very different," Connell was quoted as saying.
In addition to mentions of the Summit and Schell's breweries, the story takes note of Zombie Dust, a product of 3 Floyds Brewing Co. While not sold in Minnesota, it can be purchased in Wisconsin. There also is an intriguing mention of a beer out East.
"In Richmond, Va., which is home to one of the hottest craft brew scenes in the country, a little Blue Ridge Mountain brewery called Devil's Backbone is Target's top seller, outselling the biggest brands in the business," Connell said in the 2016 story.
His job required him to research beers across the country — right down to the ZIP code. Alli Beatty, a fellow Target traveler and beer buyer at the time, later organized the GoFundMe page launched after Connell's cancer diagnosis.
Beatty and others announced they'd be running races as part of the fundraiser and planned to wear "Cancer Can Go Pound Sand" shirts.
"He was such a special person," Beatty said Friday. "It's a very sad loss for us all."
Fehn, who presided over Connell's funeral service last week, is a hospital chaplain who knows toughness. He joined the Army National Guard in 1998 and trained to serve as an Army chaplain with soldiers in Bosnia, Croatia and Iraq.
"Nine times I heard he raced," he said of Connell. "Nine times."
Fehn noted, too, the selected funeral readings, one of which said: "For I am already poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
In addition to his mother, Patricia, Connell is survived by his wife, Amanda, father Patrick and sister Katelyn.
Services have been held — and so, too, a celebration of life at Surly Brewing Co.