SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands of people all over Utah will be up early and hitting the ground this weekend when at least 17 running events are scheduled.
Runners, walkers — and even rollers — will cross finish lines this weekend in races up and down Utah, from Kanab to Bear Lake. Participants will cover distances anywhere from a mile to 169 miles as they run for fun, for fitness, for a cause or for personal triumph.
Races have been popping up all over Utah and the nation over the past few years. Some believe the seeming increase in the popularity of running and racing could be because of a general increase in desire to be healthy or a change in the reputation of races.
“There are all these fun races now,” said Provo resident Kathy Johnson, who has completed the Ragnar Relay, Utah Valley Half Marathon and the 2013 Boston Marathon. “Anybody can go out and do a Dirty Dash or a Color Run. I feel like races are opening up, so you don’t have to be a collegiate runner to be a racer now.”
Mackenzie McCleery, of Draper, is a personal trainer and nutritionist who has an impressive racing resume, including Ragnar races, half marathons, Spartan races, the Dirty Dash, the Color Run, a zombie race, Santa dashes and turkey trots. She offered a similar explanation.
“I think that our idea about exercise has changed a little bit in that racing isn’t just for hard-core athletes any more. It’s not just people doing marathons and triathlons,” she said. “I think 5Ks and 10Ks are getting bigger because of things like the Dirty Dash and the Color Run, things that are a little more social and more fun to train for. That’s why we’ve seen more pop up within the last two years, especially in Utah.”
Lindsay Schwendiman started running to stay in shape while attending Brigham Young University. She soon got into 5K races and is now training for a half marathon in October.
“I definitely feel like the color runs and stuff have been a fad, probably because everyone else is doing so many races all of a sudden,” Schwendiman said. “People feel like anyone can run. It’s something that’s doable.”
Once you start, though, you can never go back, according to Lori Castagnetto, an extreme runner in Provo. She started running marathons in 2009, got into trail running recently and is training for a 50-mile race in October.
“I feel like racing and running in general, especially in Utah I’ve noticed, have become a big thing,” Castagnetto said. “There are people all over making new races. I feel like it’s just exploding everywhere and people are getting into the running craze.”
Runners who spoke with the Deseret News said those not ready to join the running craze this weekend could start by simply signing up for a race, putting it on the calendar and finding a running buddy.
“If you sign up for a race, it makes you want to train and gives meaning to your training,” Castagnetto said. “If you want to do it, then just do it.”
The Utah races scheduled for this weekend include:
Electric Run: A nighttime 5K with music, tunnels of light, glowing trees and colored fountains, benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; Thanksgiving Point, Lehi
3.1 for Don: A 5K to raise money for Don Woods, 58, who is diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis; Highland Glen Park, Highland
Ability First 5K/10K Run, Walk & Roll: A fundraiser for Ability First Utah, which helps people with disabilities become independent; 2225 W. 600 North, Provo
American Heart Association Heart Walk: A 5K run and walk with a red color attack zone, supports the American Heart Association; Sugarhouse Park, Salt Lake City
Bear Lake Brawl Triathlon: A sprint and an Olympic-level triathlon; Rendezvous Beach, Bear Lake
Chelsie Hill 5K: “Lace up to buckle up,” a race in memory of Chelsie Hill and others who are gone because they didn’t wear a seat belt; Hunter High in West Valley City
Fire Station Run Half Marathon: The sixth annual fire station run at Sandy Fire Station 32; 9475 S. 2000 East, Sandy
Grizzly Tracks 5K: A run that starts and ends at George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park, benefits Gramercy Elementary School; Dinosaur Park, 1544 Park Blvd., Ogden
Hidden Peak 10K Challenge: A mountain-trail run to a spectacular view at Hidden Peak; Snowbird
Moab Autumn 10K Run: A benefit run for Moab Charter School students and the Grand County High School boys and girls cross-country teams; Swanny Park, Moab
Race for Surgical Safety: A fundraiser for the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses; starts at Treasure Valley Park in Washington, Washington County
Ripreza Run For Recovery: A 5K to raise awareness about the disease of addiction, presented by Cirque Lodge drug rehab center, 777 N. Palisades Drive, Orem
Three Peaks Duathlon Adventure Race: A 5K trail run followed by a 12K mountain bike and then another 5K trail run, supports the Cedar City Volunteer Fireman's Relief Association; Three Peaks Recreation Area, Cedar City
Top of Utah Marathon: The 15th annual NordicTrack Top of Utah Marathon; Blacksmith Fork Canyon, Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area, Cache County
Uintah Half Marathon: A scenic, downhill run through Dry Fork Canyon in Vernal
Run the Plank 5K/Walk the Plank 2K: A Pirate Swim Club run at Cyprus High School, Magna
Grand to Grand Ultra: A seven-day, self-supported foot race covering 169 miles from Grand Canyon to Grand Staircase, finishes in Kanab