Well-traveled Utah marathoner calls Ogden Marathon the most beautiful

Thursday , May 18, 2017 - 5:00 AM1 comment

BOB JUDSON, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

OGDEN — There may not be an odometer with enough digits on it to capture the distances Marcie Nielsen has run in preparation for more than 2,600 competitive marathon miles.

Having traveled through 101 marathons from Boston to Honolulu, Nielsen has been in serious early morning workout mode approaching the 17th Ogden Marathon slated for Saturday.

She runs two small, easy runs, two medium runs and one long run — this time, up to 19 miles — each week to prepare for a marathon.

“Your body has muscle memory and you want to get to the point where you’ve trained to be on your feet that long — water, food, everything,” she said.


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Nielsen ran her first marathon in 1997 and has only missed Ogden twice since 2003.

“I love the Ogden Marathon. I run all over the United States and people always ask me what my favorite is. For organization and beauty, I always tell them Ogden, because it is,” she said. “I’ve never been running with horses as I’m running a marathon. (In Ogden) they literally are running with me.”

“At dawn around Pineview Reservoir is just beautiful. And then you go down the canyon and it’s always at spring runoff, so it’s usually a pretty full river,” she said.

Weather will always play a part in an outdoor event and the Ogden Marathon is no different, with a storied history of inclement conditions throughout the years.

“I think it was 2005 — it was like the second or third time I had run it — and it just came down, just hail. I thought, ‘this is what it feels like to be stoned,’ because it was pretty painful, but you get through it,” Nielsen added.

Nielsen’s best time in the Ogden Marathon is 3 hours, 41 minutes and because of her success there and at other venues, she has run a qualifying time to get into the Boston Marathon 11 times.

She was picking up her Boston Marathon participation medal in 2013 when two bombs exploded on Boylston Street right behind her.

“I felt the concussion. People were like, ‘was that a cannon?’ I’m like, ‘no, at Boston they don’t have cannons. It was my ninth time running it and they’ve never done that before.’” Nielsen said.

“The natural instinct was someone has got to be hurt, so you go towards it and help. But then the other one went off and it was like, ‘OK, now I just better get out of here.’ They just stopped the race right there. It was quite a nightmare.”

After finally being able to use a phone, Nielsen contacted her husband who thought she was just emotional about having finished the race in under four hours until she explained what happened — she was thinking there were years when she finished in just more than four hours, about the time the bombs went off at the finish line.

Nielsen did not run Boston this year.

“It’s a whole different ballgame there. Just a big show, a huge event, and sometimes you just don’t do well there. I got a little tired of it and want to do some others,” she said.

She has run New York twice and Chicago once. One marathon she’s eyeing that will enhance her travel resume is October’s Marine Corps marathon in Washington D.C.

“You become what my doctor calls a running junkie, because it’s an addiction,” Nielsen said of her pursuits. “Once your body is used to running this much, it’s like breathing — if you stop doing it, you actually go through withdrawal.”

Nielsen said the hardest part of the Ogden Marathon is the last 3 miles as runners come out of the canyon and run on a small trail route just before hitting a real road the last mile.

“You really have to stay mentally engaged,” she said. “Most runners, at least in the marathon distance, are pretty successful and you can see that they’re very driven and goal oriented.”

At 51 years young, Nielsen will run many more marathon miles before she sleeps.

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