Michael Brandy, Deseret News
The 10 Hardy siblings, ranging from age 52 to 34, will each run or walk in the Pioneer Days 10K race on Thursday as part of a family fitness challenge.

Some of her children will finish Thursday's Deseret News Pioneer Days 10K race faster than others. But Jeannine Hardy will be at the finish line with a smile and open arms.

Then she'll wait for the next child to finish.

Then the next.

Then the next.

Until all 10 of her children have completed the race.

"Isn't this incredible?" Hardy asked as she sat in awe of the undertaking her large family is embarking on. "I never thought I'd see something like this."

The Hardy clan is indeed living up to its name. Ten children — ranging from Karlin, 52, to Christopher, 34 — will line up together at the start Thursday morning to complete a goal several months in the making.

The siblings — Karlin, James, Kristin, Mark, Carol, Scott, Kim, Todd, Matt and Chris — are now only a couple of days away from getting there.

Some of the Hardy siblings are serious runners. Others are reluctant walkers.

Together, though, they will wear matching T-shirts in support of one another during the race. And if one person finishes ahead of another, he or she might turn around, run up the course and cross the line again with a sibling.

"What we want to do," Scott Hardy said, "is to all cross the finish line together when the last of us finishes."

Thursday's race is hardly the only running the family has done. Though some are seasoned marathon runners and others laugh at the notion of a pace quicker than a brisk walk, the 10 Hardys estimate they combine for at least 150 miles on the road per week.

Still, coordinating something like this was no easy task.

Kim Robins, one of four sisters, took up the task of motivating everyone and has turned it into not just a running adventure, but a quest for lifelong fitness among her siblings.

"To get all 10 kids to commit was quite a challenge," Robins said. "Some of us really haven't done any exercise at all in years. For one of us, just starting to go out and walk very far, it actually made her sick."

Robins has run a dozen marathons. Scott Hardy has completed almost 30. Other siblings have run a few and others have that as an eventual goal.

Some may curl up on the sidewalk after Thursday's 10K and never put on another pair of running shoes.

Whether or not everyone maintains their running schedules, Robins said she hopes it leads to longer, healthier lives for each of her brothers and sisters.

"I think it all started when I was reading an article in a magazine about some brothers and sisters who were getting sick and dying of different things," she said.

"I thought, 'I don't know if I'm ready to start burying my siblings.' So I tried to get everybody a little more active."

Partly inspired by the television show "The Biggest Loser," Robins has kept track of the family's progress in training for the race. Weight loss has been a welcome by-product for several members of the Hardy family.

"Christopher (the baby of the family at 34 years old) has really made some serious changes," Scott Hardy said. "He said he's lost 32 pounds and, really, we're all impressed with him. He's really made a big change in his life."

Frequent updates and e-mails are exchanged in the family and the encouragement is paying off.

Since tracking progress started in May, Robins said the family has combined to lose 93 pounds.

The running bug might have actually been planted in the family nearly four decades ago when the family's father, Arthur Hardy, signed up for the Deseret News Marathon. He only made it as far as the zoo, but made an impression on his kids.

"I always thought that one day I'd finish that race for him," Scott Hardy said. "I ran it in 1997."

And with that, the Hardy family started running — and might never stop.


E-mail: jeborn@desnews.com