August Miller, Deseret News
Lindi Salmond and her son Caleb of Bountiful cross the finish line in Thursday's Deseret News 5K Future Walk.

No times are kept in the Deseret News 5K Future Walk because this event is held mainly for fun, and it gives families the opportunity to participate together at any age level and with various physical conditions that might otherwise eliminate them from competition.

No competition here.

Well, don't mention that too loudly as families line up at the EnergySolutions Arena starting line and prepare to walk the 5K course to Liberty Park. Walking is also a misnomer to most who signed up for the event.

"We are competitive," said Jennifer Whiting, 20, who was preparing to run with twin sisters Jill and Joni, 14, and mom Kathy. Along for the ride in the stroller was nephew Kody Lowell, who was born with birth defects in his knees and was the main reason for this family outing.

"Last year we told him that we won," said Jennifer, "and he told everyone that we won and we didn't even come close."

And that is the spirit of this event.

And who did win? No one knows for sure. David Knighton of South Jordan crossed the finish line in 26 minutes and 40 seconds by his own timing, and the announcer thought he was the first 5K finisher. But in the melee of the 10K runners and the marathon runners, it was hard to tell.

Was he competitive? "My wife is somewhere back there," he said, obviously not opting to run by her side.

But overall, most were there for the fun of it. Grant and Nancy Ross made it a family affair this year after eight years of running by themselves. Son Steve with wife Carrie pushed 4-month-old Wrigley in a stroller. Joining them were daughters Rachel Schmalz and Kristy Wright, with Wright bringing perhaps the youngest baby in the field, Ethan, who was born on May 20.

Said Wright, "I'm just trying to get back in shape."

Judith Nielsen and Kathryn Nielsen ran with five daughters: Lauren, Brianna, Riley, Brooke and Britany. Husbands David and Kris ran in the marathon, prompting Judith to say: "Since they woke us up anyway, we decided to do the 5K."

Kathryn and her family came all the way from San Antonio, Texas. Judith's family lives in the Millcreek area. Judith observed, "The crowd cheers just as much for the 5K runners."

Indeed, the crowd was vocal.

Brenda Smith, lead organizer of the 5K, explained why this event was called the "Future 5K Walk."

"This is essentially for the kids," said Smith, "We want them to know they are the future."

She said many families registered for this event, with some kids as young as 2 years old. One family registered 12 members who would participate together — and the babies in strollers were not counted as registering.

On the higher end of the age spectrum was Robert Bingham, who was being pushed in a wheelchair by his daughter Heidi Lloyd.

"He had a stroke a couple of years ago," said Lloyd. But she and her mother, Ilene, honor him in this event because he used to be so actively involved in coaching his daughters.

"He wasn't a coach, coach," clarified Ilene. "He was more like a personal trainer."

Lloyd added, "He coached my sister to a state championship in high school." Her sister was participating in the 10K.

And that is essentially the purpose of the 5K — to provide an opportunity for all of the family members to participate at some level and meet together at the same finish line in Liberty Park.


E-mail: wjewkes@desnews.com