INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - For as long as friends and family can remember, Linda and Robert Mathis had a passion for walking and ultrarunning.
But it was a particular moment 15 years ago that allowed the married couple to add to that passion their love for Disney, said Lana Hyde, Linda's sister.
In 1996, Lana's husband took her there to propose, and Linda and Robert were among those who joined in the family celebration. It wasn't long, Hyde recalled, before the Mathises learned of the annual Walt Disney World Marathon.
Ever since, the duo made it a goal to travel back to Florida as often as possible to run in the annual event.
"They lived for walking and running, and they loved Disney - that is what they were all about," Hyde said.
Linda S. Mathis and Robert C. Mathis, both 46, died Dec. 30, 2011, after being struck by a truck while trying to cross Highway 28 in Incline Village.
Linda was born to Bernard and Marlys Plumer on Jan. 25, 1965. Robert C. Mathis was born to Charlie and Julie Mathis on May 8, 1965. They were married March 18, 1989, in Eureka, Calif, and both graduated from Humboldt State.
The couple - who had no children - moved to Incline Village in 2006, with both working at times at Mike Menath Insurance. While they moved back and forth between Folsom, Calif., in 2008, the Mathises always considered Incline Village home, Hyde said.
"They moved there because of the area, because of (the) trails," Hyde said.
While the Mathises always enjoyed competing in various races, their love for running allowed them to take more active roles in recent years in planning and conducting events.
The couple managed a website called www.ultrarunner.net, which provides information about and results from walking and running races across the nation and in the Northern California and Northern Nevada regions. They also helped run River City Race Management (www.rivercityroadrace.com), a company out of Folsom that offers race management and chip timing services.
Over the years, the couple gained many regional friends in the racing and ultrarunning community. When news of the tragic incident spread, those friends began sharing online memories and tributes.
"Robert and Linda were two shining stars of the ultrarunning community and we will miss them terribly," wrote Woodside, Calif., resident and ultrarunner Scott Dunlap, in his blog at www.atrailrunnersblog.com. "If they weren't out running or crewing, they were putting on great races on their favorite trails ... I will always remember their smiling faces, Linda's famous homemade chili, Robert's crazy addiction to the Disney World Marathon, and the deep friendship they shared with so many in the community."
That love for Disney World, Hyde said, led to Robert Mathis being just one of 158 runners - out of about 17,000 - to earn a Perfectly Goofy distinction prior to this year. The term applies to any Disney marathon runner who, beginning in 2006 with the inaugural "Perfectly Goofy" award, finished "Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge" - completing a half-marathon on Saturday, then the full marathon on Sunday, race day.
Hyde had little doubt that Robert would have made it seven in a row at this year's marathon, which took place last weekend near Orlando.
"That's where they were headed," Hyde said. "They were celebrating the holidays in Incline, then were supposed to fly out of Reno the next day to get ready for the marathon."
Linda Mathis is survived by her mother Marlys Plumer, of Medford, Ore.; her brothers Brian Plumer, of Vista, Calif., and Todd Plumer, of Chico, Calif.; and sisters Marla Uhles, of Central Point, Ore., and Lana Hyde, of Medford, Ore.. Linda was proceeded in death by her father, Bernard Plumer.
Robert is survived by his parents, Charlie and Julie Mathis, of Plymouth, Calif.; and his brother, Mark Mathis.
No funeral services are planned at this time.
A Facebook group - In Memory of Linda and Robert Mathis - was recently created. It includes stories and condolences and photos of the couple over the years. It also includes details about the Robert and Linda Mathis Memorial Group Run, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, at Auburn Overlook Park, 855 Pacific Avenue, Auburn, Calif.