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Brian Nicholson: Hurt in the Dirt brings local and national athletes alike

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 4 2012 4:49 p.m. MDT

Cyclocross champion Jonathan Page jumps a small stream as he competes in the Hurt in the Dirt signature event, a duathlon of mountain biking and running, at Fort Buenaventura in Ogden Saturday, Aug. 25.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News, Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

OGDEN — A race called Hurt in the Dirt might sound intimidating at first, at least to some. To others, it may sound like a challenge waiting to be overcome. Or to still others, it may just inspire a twinge of curiosity sufficient to elevate them from their couches and see what all the commotion is about.

Whatever the reason, this year's Hurt in the Dirt series of races, held at Ogden's Fort Buenaventura on Aug. 25, lived up to its billing.

The signature race, a duathlon, begins with two laps on a five-mile mountain bike course, then two laps of running on a trail of about 1.6 miles, for a total of 3.2 miles. Then the course is repeated again with two laps of biking and two of running. Athletes may tackle the distance all on their own, or split up anyway they like as a two-person relay team.

Sounds easy, right? The caveat, however, is that these laps are not your normal walk in the park, or fort, in this case. The course is filled with natural obstacles to block your path, and not small ones either.

There are fallen trees, steep climbs, large boulders and small streams. Or make that, large streams, sort of like the Weber River. Well, not sort of. Make that exactly like the Weber River.

According to GOAL Foundation President Jenny Scothern, that's exactly the way they wanted it. "It's not a typical, manufactured, mud race event. It's all authentic. It's through the woods, through some single track. It's over the Weber River, jumping some logs. So even a marathon runner can come out and have some fun, mix it up," she said.

The duathlon not only produced competitors of all shapes and sizes, but also attracted a couple of big names who were up for the challenge. Olympic gold medalist Bill Demong, who lives in Park City, shattered the course record by 20 minutes and finished in two hours and one minute.

"This is, by no means, an easy race," he said. "I rarely do any kind of running anymore. It's super challenging. It's awesome. I'll definitely be back," he added.

One of the missions of the GOAL Foundation, which organized the event, is to promote outdoor recreation and an active lifestyle for people of all ages and abilities.

"There's a good competitive group, but it's also a fun race. It's not super serious," said Demong, who won the gold medal in the 10K individual large hill event at the 2010 Winter Olympics and was the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in a Nordic event.

Alongside the duathlon there is a 10K nighttime trail race, which features four laps on the running portion. Runners follow glow sticks over the same logs and rivers, only with the added challenge of running in the dark.

New this year was a very popular, women's only run called Skirt in the Dirt, which not only brought serious athletes, but tons of costumes and plenty of excitement. "The Skirt in the Dirt was a first-year event, and we had an amazing response," said Scothern. "There was a lot of costumes, a lot of energy, and the expo looked totally different. I mean, it looked like a bridal shower out there this morning."

First-time participant Weston Woodward feels it's a great event for Ogden. "It's appealing to me just because I have so many family and friends out here," he said.

Hurt in the Dirt was full of variety, not only for the athletes but also for spectators.

"We're thrilled to have the top notch athletes wanting to participate in our event," said GOAL Foundation Chairman Kevin Burns. "But we like dragging people off the couch," he said. "I mean, look at this venue, we're still in downtown but you can't see a building anywhere. Fort Buenaventura is an awesome venue."

In addition to the competitive races, there was also a kid's zone, a bike rodeo and tons of places to watch the athletes splash through streams or leap over logs. It's certainly not the worst way to spend a summer afternoon in Ogden.

To find out more, visit www.getoutandlive.org Brian Nicholson has completed marathons from Boston to Beijing, several Ragnar relays and has developed a keen taste for all things Gu.

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