OGDEN -- For Kim Ulmer and Nick Raitt, Saturday's 10th annual Zions Bank Ogden Marathon was more than a competition against the field, it was a race with a cause against a menacing foe -- cancer.
Little did Ulmer know of the challenge that loomed on the horizon when she signed up for the half marathon in early November. Before the month was out she was diagnosed with breast cancer. "I decided that I was not going to let it take me out and that I was going to continue to prepare for the race."
During the months leading up to the marathon, Ulmer has undergone chemotherapy -- with the last one scheduled for Monday -- and has had to modify her training.
"I'm a runner, but I had to do more walking as part of my training because of the chemo. I was still able to run a lot of it (half marathon), and made it with the encouragement of my sister, Mel Escandon, who was beside me all the way pushing me. My goal was to finish under three hours, and I was so excited when I crossed in 2:57."
Having accomplished her target time, Ulmer is equally optimistic about her challenge and battle with cancer. "I figure that if I can do this while going through chemo, I can beat cancer," Ulmer said. "I hope people will see this as an awesome opportunity of helping others become aware of cancer."
Raitt's approach to the marathon was similar, but with a little different twist. He organized the Wacky (Warriors Against Cancer in Kids and Young Adults) Warriors, supporters with the vision of drawing attention to cancer among young adults, and to have fun in the process. In 2007, at the age of 18, Nick was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer, alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. After 28 radiation treatments and two surgeries, the cancer went into remission, but two years later it returned with a tumor in his pancreas.
Additional chemotherapy and radiation treatments, more surgery and hospital stays have been commonplace for Raitt, but because of the effect it had on his quality of life, he chose to stop all treatments and today has no evidence of disease.
"What keeps me going is the fact that I can do something to change this," Raitt said. "If I can be a part of a solution, and help other cancer survivors along the way, then I will do whatever I can to raise awareness and help change people's views on cancer."
It was evident from the messages on running shirts that Ulmer and Raitt weren't alone in their quest to draw awareness to their respective causes. There were many more who used the annual event as a venue for awareness.