Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Participants leave the starting line in Logan at the beginning of the 181-mile Wasatch Back relay in June 2007.

When Christine Brimley's friends decided to erect a memorial in her memory, they considered all the usual options.

And then they thought of Brimley the runner, the triathlete, the always-willing, high-energy, usually-clad-in-pink beauty and decided that the standard remembrance just wouldn't do.

"I wanted to have a living remembrance to Christine," said fellow runner Anne Killgore, who spearheaded a fundraising and construction project in Brimley's honor. "By no means did I do this alone ... She has been helping me out every step of the way. This belongs to all of you — and to the community of Salt Lake."

Then she encouraged everyone to drink from Brimley's fountain.

"Let's keep the energy going," said Killgore, who, along with 23 other friends, will run the MyoMed Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back this weekend to honor the mother of two who died of colon cancer June 15, 2007.

About 40 of her friends, many of whom will run the 181-mile endurance relay this weekend that starts in Logan and finishes in Park City, gathered at the fountain on Foothill Boulevard on the Shoreline Trail Tuesday night to remember Brimley and celebrate her life.

They said a fountain, which sustains and refreshes passers-by as well as athletes, is the perfect memorial to a woman who was planning to compete in the Wasatch Back when she lost her battle with cancer last year.

"Every time I go by and someone is taking a drink, I think, yes!" said Killgore with a grin. "She really wanted (to run the race) again. She'd been raising money for it."

A record-setting 7,000 runners will compete in the Wasatch Back this Friday and Saturday, a race that is the second-largest relay race in the country and the second-largest running-only event in the state. MyoMed Ragnar Relay race officials donated all 24 of the entrance fees for the two teams to the fountain effort.

Tanner Bell, co-founder of the race series, said the race was sold out three months ago and, once again, has nearly doubled in size.

The relay, now in it's fifth year, is sold out at about 578 teams, and officials had to turn about 100 teams away. Because it's sold out, race officials want those who've participated this year to have first crack at signing up for next year. Registration for the 2009 race will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday during the post-race festivities.

Bell said he and his partner, Dan Hill, always knew the race would grow in popularity, but sometimes the speed at which the event has evolved takes their breath away.

"The race just continues to exceed our expectations," Bell said. He said the fundraising aspects of all of the MyoMed Ragnar Relay races, as well as the team concept, make it very popular with both recreational and competitive athletes.

"It makes running a team sport," he said. "And running is already so cause-oriented that many people are drawn to those aspects."

Killgore captains one of the teams, which calls itself Women Off Piste, which is French for "in the rough" or "off the groomed path." The team is one of many in the Wasatch Back running for a cause. In fact, race officials teamed up with Operation Kids in order to leave a tangible, positive impact in the communities that athletes run through during the two-day race.

"The American Heart Association has health and fitness materials that teach kids about good nutrition, exercise and the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle," said Rick Larsen, Operation Kids president and chief marketing officer. The money raised will help with educational materials and even some equipment like jump ropes and playground equipment. "It will all focus on children's fitness."

Other teams are raising money on their own or just running in honor of team members and/or their loved ones who inspire and motivate them.

Like Killgore, they will have a little easier time scaling that slope on very little sleep with the knowledge that they're not out there alone.

"She was beautiful," said Killgore of Brimley, choking back emotion. "She was a girly girl, but she was a fabulous athlete. We'd show up in our stained things, and she'd always be so put together. ... She was a great friend. She just lived well."

Robin Marcus, who was on the first Women Off Piste team with Brimley, added, "She was so fun. She always wanted to know who picked the hilly route. ... She was real. She told you just the way it was. ... and even with cancer, she would beat you up the hill."


E-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com