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'A gem of a human being': Philip Kreycik, Berkeley resident and runner, dies at 37

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Berkeley resident Philip Kreycik died at the age of 37 after going missing on a run at Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park on July 10.


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AUGUST 11, 2021

Philip Kreycik, Berkeley resident, long-distance runner, outdoor enthusiast and father, died at age 37 after disappearing on a run at Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park on July 10.

Initial autopsy results taken three weeks after Kreycik’s disappearance showed no sign of foul play. Kreycik leaves behind his wife, Jennifer Yao, and their two children.

“In a world of increasing complexity, where everyone and everything seems equivocal, Phil was a refreshing island of simplicity,” said Bryan Ho, Berkeley resident and Kreycik’s longtime friend, in an email. “He ran for the love of running, he smiled because he was happy, and he wanted for nothing more than what he needed. He was a gem of a human being and will be sorely missed by a legion of people who admired him.”

According to Ho, Kreycik is remembered for his outdoor exploits and affinity for adventure.

As a student at Harvard University, Kreycik helped revive the Harvard Outing Club, an organization that helps students destress off of campus through organized trips and outdoor activities.

“I’ve known Phil since 2004 — we went on a few hikes together, he roped me into helping re-create the Harvard Outing Club in its modern form, and we’ve been friends since,” Victor Shnayder, Berkeley resident and friend of Kreycik, said in an email. “Phil … was an amazing human being.”

Shnayder added that Kreycik cared about sustainability, often organizing “car-free” outdoor events and taking opportunities to recycle.

According to Shnayder, Kreycik also maintained a career in clean energy planning.

“If he was wearing a funny hat, it was probably because he found it abandoned by the side of a trail, and it was obviously better to put it to use than to throw it away,” Shnayder said in his email.

Having met Kreycik during their freshman year of college, Ho recalled some of Kreycik’s most notable “Phil stories,” including the time that Kreycik allegedly engaged in a two-hour standoff with a grizzly bear in an Alaskan gully. He eventually returned to school with a photo to prove it.

Ho added that Kreycik once entered a distance relay race, completed the entire trail by himself and won. Ho noted that Kreycik wasn’t “some sort of adrenaline junky,” but rather enjoyed small challenges as well.

“I remember going over to his house once and he had bought several pounds of bell peppers at Berkeley Bowl because they were on sale as expired food,” Ho said in his email. “He was excited about the challenge of finding a way to consume an absurd amount of peppers before they went bad.”

A GoFundMe page, originally created to raise funds for the search effort, will now be used to offer financial support to Kreycik’s family.

Contact Anishi Patel her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @anishipatel.

AUGUST 11, 2021