Running outside in frigid winter weather is not my favorite activity.
There are a few reasons, however, that I will break out the winter gear and brave the below-freezing temperatures. This weekend is one of them.
Saturday, at 11 a.m., I'll join with some good-hearted runners and walkers participating in the Nick Yengich Grandma Gump Annual 5K Memorial walk/run. Attorney Ron Yengich started the race in 1985 to honor his brother Nick Yengich, a journalist who'd died the year before at age 37.
There was a method, as well as purpose, behind his decision to hold the race in December in the tiny town of Copperton. The race is held the first Saturday in December because Dec. 6 is Nick's birthday. Copperton hosts the race because it is the closest town to their childhood home in Bingham Canyon. In 1999, Ron added a walk to the run in honor of Draper City Judge Gerry "Grandma Gump" Enniss, who walked across Utah twice to benefit the Children's Justice Center.
For weather wimps like me, it's important to note there are no weather delays, cancellations or excuses.
Raised by a miner who pointed out the fact that inclement weather never kept him from his duties in the mine, Yengich hosts the race come rain, sleet, snow or shine.
The icy canyon wind, and sometimes accompanying snow or rain, have become part of what makes the race special to the loyal cadre of runners who show up year after year.
If proving their mettle doesn't entice them, running for a great cause does.
Every year Ron donates the proceeds of the race to a deserving person or cause. Over the years Yengich and his hardy, loyal band of runners have helped individuals like Stacy Hanson, a victim in the Trolley Square shooting; Brian Carlson, a car-bike accident victim; and Tamara Hamilton, who was fighting cancer, as well as organizations like the Good Samaritan Foundation for the Homeless, The Humane Society, and The Utah State Historical Society.
The list of people helped by the annual run is long and diverse. This year the run will benefit the Fullmer Brothers Boxing Gym. For years, the Fullmer family, led by former World Champion middleweight Gene Fullmer, and his successful boxing brothers Don and Jay Fullmer, operated a boxing gym for aspiring fighters, most of whom couldn't afford memberships at other gyms.
The Fullmers were told last year that the building they were using courtesy of West Jordan City was needed to house city equipment. The city graciously gave the gym more than a year to find a new home. With the help of Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper; Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon; county council member Randy Horiuchi and some others, the county offered the Fullmers a building at the South Jordan Equestrian Center.
"The money we raise will go to help us move," said Larry Fullmer, Don's son.
Larry said Ron has been a supporter of the gym and boxing in Utah for decades.
"He has always helped us out," said Larry. "My grandparents were Bingham Canyon people. ... We're all from that area."
And most of the Fullmers will be on hand Saturday morning, although some will be doing more cheering than running.
My entire family looks forward to the race because not only is the atmosphere more like a celebration than a competition, but once we're finished braving the canyon wind, we head over to the Methodist Church for chili, soup and hot chocolate. The church members sell holiday items and baked goods to runners and spectators alike.
Ron was out of town when I wrote this column, but I found a great quote on his website from his father. It seems it was directed at me.
"We worked up there night and day, rain or shine, snow or sleet, burning heat or freezing cold," he'd say, pointing at the mine. "It didn't hurt us, so go out and run; you're not made of sugar; a little snow or rain won't melt you."
If you'd like to join us, you can register Saturday morning or by contacting Myrleen at 801-355-0320.
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