The sudden death of Catherine Clarke, a 46-yearold triathlete and director at the provincial registry, had many people who knew her in shock Friday.
Catherine, who has lived in Victoria since she was 10, died instantly Thursday in a car crash in New Zealand.
She was riding in a car driven by her partner, Glenn Hamilton, when their vehicle collided with a semi-truck.
Hamilton was air-lifted from the scene but has since been released from hospital, said Anthony Clarke, Catherine's brother, on Friday.
She had travelled to New Zealand to participate in the World Triathlon Grand Final in Auckland Oct. 22.
She achieved a personal best in the race, and was seeing the country before returning home.
Catherine, the youngest of four siblings, attended Monterey Elementary and Oak Bay High.
"She was outgoing, had lots and lots and lots of friends," said Anthony from his father's Oak Bay home.
When the news was delivered to her colleagues at the provincial government on Friday, many drifted over to Catherine's home to grieve, he said.
Others decorated the office with photos of Catherine.
Her trainer, Clint Lien, had heard from Catherine days ago when she wrote a detailed report on how she fared in the race.
On Friday morning, he awoke to an email from a mutual friend asking if he had heard the news.
Lien got confirmation of Catherine's death while he was coaching at the pool.
"I didn't say anything to the group - everyone knew her, but I just didn't say a thing," Lien said.
He went home in a daze and then the reality of the news finally set in.
"It's really hard," he said. "She was fun to train with.
She would encourage you to have a good time."
Catherine was in a good place in life, and crazy in love with Hamilton, Lien said.
"The way she talked about him, I thought it was a new relationship - she was all happy and glowing - but then I heard they'd been together for six or seven years," he said.
Catherine was often late for workouts and would worry about being slow, holding everyone back. But she worked hard at all aspects of the sport, including long swims in the chilly waters of Thetis Lake.
In Auckland, Catherine was delighted to finish 57 out of 79 in her age group, Anthony said. "It was a huge achievement and her time was a personal best."
The competition had been a focus of her training for the past five years, he said.
Matt Patriquin at Fort Street Cycle also was in shock at the news.
"She was a super nice girl, always had a smile on her face," he said.
"It's shocking, it's tragic. The triathlon community in Victoria is very, very tight.
We're all at the same races and we all know each other."
The family is moved by the number of people who are devastated at Catherine's death, Anthony said.
"She was a gem," he said.
Right now, the family is working at getting her home. A memorial service will be held later.
Catherine is survived by her sister Sue, twin brothers Anthony and Len, and her father, Leonard.
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