Chad Lee Arnold, the Western Kentucky man who died Saturday after competing in a Lexington obstacle course, was fit and an active exerciser, a friend said.
"I wouldn't have called him unfit at all," said Ginger Tichenor, a fourth-grade teacher at Beaver Dam Elementary School in Ohio County. "He was thin, tall, a basketball player. Nobody guessed this would happen. This has been a complete and utter shock for our whole community."
Arnold, 33, collapsed while competing in an Extreme Rampage run and obstacle course at the Kentucky Horse Park. When emergency responders got to the scene, Arnold was in the care of a private ambulance service, said Battalion Chief Joe Best, public information officer for the Lexington Fire Department. Arnold was taken to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.
An autopsy was performed by the state medical examiner's office in Frankfort, and results were pending Tuesday, Fayette County Deputy Coroner Al Beatty said.
Tichenor said Arnold and his wife, Casey, were participating in the Extreme Rampage with another couple, Shanie and Nikki Allen. The two couples had been exercising together since basketball season started last fall, Tichenor said.
"Chad was an athlete, and they had been jogging together and things like that," Tichenor said. "And they were there at this race and he was very excited about it."
Tichenor didn't know where Arnold was on the course when he collapsed. She said Casey Arnold told her "they weren't very far into it. She said they had only gone over one wall, and nothing that was strenuous at that point."
The course included splashing through two mud pits, climbing a 10-foot wall, diving into a dumpster filled with ice water, crawling through tunnels, and running through a 100-tire run and a car wash with lots of foam, according to the website. Other "surprise" obstacles were not specified on the website.
All participants in the obstacle course had to sign a consent and waiver before participating. Participants typically agree on such forms to assume risks of personal injury and not hold organizers responsible for loss or damage, including death.
"There's certainly risk involved with Extreme Rampage as is with any running event," the event's website said, "but we take every precaution possible to get you to the finish line safely. There will be an ambulance and paramedics in the unlikely event that there is an emergency. You enter Extreme Rampage at your own risk. (Please refer to our event waiver.)"
Other Extreme Rampage obstacle courses are scheduled for June 15 in Clay City, July 27 in New Albany, Ind., and Sept. 7 at Masterson Station Park in Lexington. Extreme Rampage put on a similar obstacle course at Masterson Station last September.
Chris Johnson with Extreme Rampage could not be reached Tuesday by telephone or email for comment.
Meanwhile, people in Ohio County are trying to deal with Arnold's death. He was employed in railroad maintenance by the Tennessee Valley Authority, the public utility with operations in Western Kentucky, including a coal-fired power plant in neighboring Muhlenberg County.
Arnold "was very respected in the community, and our community is devastated by his loss," said Michelle Magan, principal of Beaver Dam Elementary. "It's been really hard for people in our school as well as the community."
Arnold and Tichenor's husband, Brian, co-coached the fourth-grade basketball team, whose members included Arnold's son, Miles, and the Tichenors' son, Grant.
"Our team just won a (county) championship for Junior Pro a few weeks ago," Tichenor said. "He (Chad) was so excited. His whole life was around his son. ... The children adored him. We are all just tremendously sad."
Arnold's funeral is scheduled for Thursday at William L. Danks Funeral Home in Beaver Dam.