Amy Donaldson: Mapleton mom finds closure, inspiration in running for cousin's husband

Published: Sunday, July 6 2014 7:50 p.m. MDT

Updated: Monday, July 7 2014 5:45 p.m. MDT

Marshall knew it would be difficult, and some intermittent rain at the end made it even more difficult. But Kunz’s memory, her love for his family and her commitment to her son kept her moving.

“During the race I was just focused on, ‘Just keep going,'” she said. “We’re doing this. We’re going to finish.”

Her husband met her at several places along the scenic course and offered to take her son, which would have made the remainder of the race easier.

But Marshall was determined to run every step of Jeremy's race with 11-year-old Trey for “two people who could not.”

Every mile was marked with a picture of Kunz. Some were of him alone; others were snapshots of him with his family. Nearly all of them were pictures of him running or hiking or enjoying the outdoors in some way. Marshall touched each picture and kissed her son’s head.

“It was very emotional for me,” Marshall said of seeing the pictures each mile. “Yet, it also gave me another reason to finish.”

On her blog she wrote about how difficult the race became.

“It was super hard for me to keep going,” she wrote. “I could feel myself receiving that closure and comfort that I had been hoping for in regards to Jeremy’s death.”

The downpour made a painful undertaking even more uncomfortable. Wet and exhausted, Marshall crossed the finish line pushing her 50-pounds son in a 30-pound stroller in just a little more than three hours.

She was elated.

And she was inspired.

Which, she realized, is really what Jeremy Kunz did in his short life. He inspired people to live better and love more.

“Never in my life would I have thought I would complete a half-marathon,” she wrote. "Through his love of running, he has gotten a lot of us out running who otherwise would not.”

Marshall said she was inspired to see what she might be able to do on her own with better training. So the self-described non-runner is signed up for this weekend’s race.

She said she’s not surprised that the community has embraced the race. In fact, it’s an event that captures beautifully what his life was about, including the desire to conquer challenges, support others, and reach out to those who are suffering. It is the perfect metaphor for the life of Jeremy Bart Kunz.

“People were so drawn to Jeremy,” she said. “He was so personable, so caring about everyone he met.”

And how would the man she tried to honor with last year’s run feel about her efforts?

“I know he would be really proud,” she said of how Kunz would feel about her tribute. “He would be really happy. He was always happy about everything anyway, but he would think it was super neat that I got to do that with Trey.”

Twitter: adonsports EMAIL: adonaldson@deseretnews.com

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