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Brian Nicholson: Despite incessant rain, more than 3,000 runners participate in Ogden Marathon

Published: Saturday, May 18 2013 5:30 p.m. MDT

Bryant Jensen of Ogden cruises to a first-place finish with a time of 2:23:11 in the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 18, 2013.

Bryan J. Smith, Only in Ogden

OGDEN — On Saturday morning, rain fell pretty hard up and down the Wasatch Front. I can imagine what most Utahns were doing at the time. They were probably sleeping in, perhaps watching Saturday morning cartoons, possibly reigniting the pilot light on their furnace units, or maybe enjoying a good book. After all, isn’t that what most of us think of doing on a rainy day?

Up in Ogden from my vantage point, there were more than 3,000 people gathered Saturday morning in a somewhat muddy field along the south fork of the Ogden River, huddled around campfires while waiting anxiously for the chance to run 26.2 miles back to Ogden where they left their cars.

I was one of them. And I was hoping like mad that the rain we were protecting ourselves from would die off shortly after the Ogden Marathon started.

It didn’t. So the only other option was to try and make the best of it.

Now there are several benefits to running a marathon, from start to finish, completely in the rain. Here are a few I thought of while sloshing my way along the river.

  1. Multitasking: It saves a ton of time. Just think about it. There is really no need to take a shower since you’re already doing just that. I don’t think I passed a single kilometer without feeling the soft supple sprinkle of rain on my face. And there wasn’t a single kilogram of my frame that wasn’t soaked at the end either.
  2. Simplified gear: There is really no need to trouble yourself with all that sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses or sombreros. Of course this benefit could come out as a wash since we were replacing all those things with, say, plastic bags, towels, life jackets and tickets to Noah’s Ark.
  3. External Cooling: Think of all the sweat you are saving. I kept seeing a scene from "Men in Black" go through my head, well sort of. It was the scene where they go to the morgue, open up an alien guy’s head, and inside there is a much smaller alien guy at the controls. I pictured it like this:
Mile 2 — Brain guy: Hey there. This guy’s already passed the 2-mile mark. Any chance we can open up the sweat glands?

Sweat Gland Operator: No need, captain. We’re showing no signs of heat.

Mile 14 — Brain guy: OK, we are well into this race now, like more than halfway. What’s going on down there?

Sweat Gland Operator: Still no readings, captain.

Mile 22 — Brain guy: Umm … how ‘bout now?

Sweat Gland Operator: Zzzzzzzzz

Bryant Jensen of Ogden seemed to have no trouble navigating the puddles and small streams. He won the men’s race with a time of 2:23:11. Devra Vierkant of Sandy was fastest among the women, completing the race in 2:48:21.

When I came across the finish line, I noticed that there wasn’t the typical flurry of activity. The reasons were quickly obvious. About three minutes after I finished, the cold set in and I could no longer control the shivering of every muscle in my body.

The usual milling about looking for something to satisfy thirst and hunger quickly changed to getting my clothing bag and walking to my car as quickly as my shuffling legs could get me there.

Despite the unpredictable weather, the GOAL Foundation, which organizes the race, all the volunteers, the security and everyone else involved couldn’t have performed better. It was a soggy beautiful day for a race, and certainly one that I will never forget.

Brian Nicholson has completed marathons from Boston to Beijing, a host of Ragnar relays. He covers related to running, cycling, health and fitness.

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