Dawn Lauti is something of an accidental marathon runner.
She started running after having her second child in order to lose weight.
"I was never a runner, and it never really even crossed my mind," said the 35-year-old mother of five who hopes to run 12 marathons in 12 months. She will tackle her second race of 12 this weekend in one of the oldest races in the country — the Deseret News Marathon. "I had never even met anyone who'd ever run a marathon. But I had a friend who wanted to do it. We were silly and young and we thought, 'Hey, let's try a marathon.' "
They signed up for the St. George Marathon, but her friend stopped training halfway through.
"I just kept with it," she said of training.
Her longest training run was 18 miles — just eight miles short of the marathon race distance. Race day rolled around, and the result, well, it wasn't pretty.
"It was awful," she said, laughing. "I had all the mental games going. I was mad at myself, mad at the people passing me, trying to figure out what did I do wrong. I didn't know all the tricks. I didn't eat the gels; I didn't do water and Gatorade right."
She said the experience was so sour, she decided she had to do another race and get it right.
It might have taken awhile to find her running bliss, but over time, the sport became her friend — physically and mentally.
"I stuck with it because it was great for my weight loss," she said. "I stuck with it because I couldn't let that be it."
Over the years, she ran marathons in between having children. Now she's finished having kids and was seeking something a little more challenging. Then she had the idea that running a marathon every month might just be the goal that takes her on a new journey.
"I don't know where it came from," she said of her 12-marathons-in-12-months goal, which she blogs about on www.racingdawn.blogspot.com. "I just thought it would be something fun and exceptional to do."
She has learned a lot by trial and error and shares those lessons on her blog.
"I am always looking for tips and information," she said.
She hopes training more consistently will bring her faster times. She went from five hours and twenty minutes that first marathon to four hours and twenty minutes just a year later.
"I knew I could do better," the Bountiful woman said of not giving up after that first race. "I did love running."
As any marathon runner knows, training is time-consuming. Add five children to the mix and, well, time to train becomes almost impossible to find.
"I'm careful when I plan my running times," Lauti said. "I work out early when the kids are sleeping or later when they're in bed. Our trips to do my races are like our vacations. I still try to put my family first."
She ran the Deseret News Marathon last year, but like her first marathon, she didn't enjoy it.
"I did think it was hard," she said. "It wasn't one of my better times. ... I'm competitive. I want to go in and get a better time."
The Deseret News Marathon is a historic race for John Bozung, as well. The Orem man will mark his 300th marathon with his finish in the marathon on Saturday morning.
"I ran two marathons last weekend so I could celebrate it with friends," he said.
Sharing his accomplishment with those who know him best was motivation to make the Deseret News his 300th. The same race was his 200th marathon years ago.
"It's a local race, and I've got a lot of friends that run it," he said. "It's a tough run, that downhill can beat you up the rest of the race if you're not careful. But it is pretty starting in that (Emigration) canyon. It's part of the Pioneer Days celebration."
Bozung owns plenty of milestones already. Five years ago, he ran 52 marathons in 52 weeks. He also owns an unofficial world record for running at least a marathon a month for 188 consecutive months.
"I have never not finished," he said.
That includes his finish two years ago in the Top of Utah marathon, when he fell about a half-mile into the race. He cut a huge gash into his forehead, cut his upper lip and broke his nose, but had paramedics tape him up and he managed to finish in a little over five hours.
"That was probably one of the more emotional finishes," he said.
Bozung is also the founder and race director for three local Ultra races — the Kahtoola Bigfoot Snowshoe Festival, which includes a 50K, Marathon, 25K, 10K and 5K; the Squaw Peak 50-mile trail run; and the Kat'cina Mosa 100K Mountain run.
Bozung was a track and cross-country runner in his youth but didn't run seriously again until he was 38. It was 1985 and his brother-in-law challenged him to run a 10K with him. He did it without training — and beat his brother-in-law.
"That kind of got me back into running," he said. "I heard about the L.A. Marathon and I decided to do that. Afterward, I swore I'd never do another one."
He couldn't keep that promise as the lure of running was too strong.
Even after decades of running marathons, Bozung said there are good days and then there are the days when he struggles. Just last weekend in his second marathon of the weekend, he found himself hitting a wall.
"Mentally, that was probably the toughest marathon I'd done," he said. "It wasn't a tough course, just the same four-mile loop, six times."
He got himself through 26.2 miles by helping a young woman who was struggling to finish her first marathon.
"I told her, 'You finish this and anything you do after this is going to be easy,' " he said. "It does help to hook up with someone, maybe they help you and you help keep them going."
He says repeatedly that his "good times are behind me" — but he means the numbers on the clock.
Bozung still finds satisfaction and purpose in the challenge of running a marathon course.
"The marathon is still a challenge," he said. "I never know if it will be a good day or a bad day, but I know I'll get there. It might not be pretty, but I'll finish."
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What: Deseret News Marathon, 10K and 5K
When: Saturday, July 24. Marathon starts at 5:30 a.m., 10K starts at 6 a.m., and I Am the Future 5K Walk starts at 7 a.m.
Where: Marathon starts at the top of Big Mountain, above Emigration Canyon. The 10K starts at Research Park on the Campus of the University of Utah. The 5K starts at the Energy Solutions Arena.
Who: Thousands of serious runners and hundreds of joggers celebrating the Pioneer Day holiday.
Details: For more information, go to deseretnews.com