Ogden marathon pub runners heather bird kase johnstun

Heather Bird and Kase Johnstun are shown at the 2014 Ogden Marathon.

The Ogden Pub Runners not-for-profit organization aims to promote fitness at all levels, encourage social and responsible drinking, and support locally and independently owned watering holes. They have, over the last three years, contributed to Real Men Can Cook, the YCC domestic violence center, many local races as volunteers, and GOAL and The Ogden Marathon. Kase Johnstun is one of the group’s founders.

Gear does not care about us. Socks do not feel bad for our feet, just like earbuds do not care for our ears. Winter running tights will chafe and cut and provide deep scrapes in our skin for soap to run in and sear and burn in the shower.

But we love our gear. We worry about its shape, its color and its wear. We spend hours online or in the running store picking out shoes and socks and sports bras and headbands and gloves. We want a perfect match. Love.

There are gear stories, those that tend to pervade runners’ conversations. And as a running group that also shares a beer or two after a run, we can be openly graphic about our gear mistakes and tragedies. We clearly detail where the chafing occurred, how bad the loofa covered in body wash ate at our open wounds in places there should never be open wounds.


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After wearing a sports bra she thought was her friend during the Army 10-miler, one friend ended the race with deep welts cut into her torso, blood running from them across her skin. One friend wrapped in a running psychosis that we all share (especially during a long run), shed undergarments mid-race because, as she says, “It's all about the underwear. The wrong kind, fit or feel, can affect the run. I've stopped and thrown it away mid-run before.” And some gear malfunctions lead to injuries.

Standing by the heaters in the cold canyon before the 2014 Ogden Marathon, I shredded my sweats, my jacket and my wool hat. The weather called for — yes wait for it — a warm day for the Ogden Marathon. I pulled off my Garmin watch, placed my iPod and ear buds in my bag, stripped off the arm band for my GPS and tossed all of them, cinched neatly in my bag, into the bottom of the giant garbage bin next to the U-Haul truck that would take our throwaway gear 26 miles away from us.

By the time I realized what I’d thrown away and run to the drop bin to see if my bag was still on top, thousands of other runners’ bags covered it up. My pacing strategy, my music, sat at the bottom of the bin. I would be running the marathon without everything I had trained with to PR over the last five months.

Story continues below the photo.

Ogden pub runners Toni Christiansen, David Gonzales, Sam Beasley

Toni Christiansen, David Gonzales and Sam Beasley are shown at the 2014 Ogden Marathon.

I stood at the starting line, funneling in behind the four-hour pacer, next to my friend David. I wanted four hours, which would have been a PR for me, having only run a couple marathons and only starting in my late 30s.

David had signed up for the marathon months earlier, but he hadn’t really trained for it.

“I’ve only done a 7-miler. That’s my longest run this year before today,” he said. “But I’ll pace you until I drop out.”

He looked down at his watch. He hadn’t specifically trained for the marathon, but he had placed himself on the starting line in amazing shape, committing himself to a strict diet and Crossfit regimen over the previous four months. Knowing that he was lean and fit, I figured he would run 13 or 14 miles before dropping out at an aid station; he told me this was his goal since he hadn’t put in the miles.

I nodded and thanked him. I had trained hard to cross that line in under four hours. I had put the miles in. If I could just run a smart race, I could do it, even without all my gear, I told myself.

The gun went off. And runners began. We headed down the canyon, the cool breeze of the Ogden River tickling our legs.

Miles nine, 10, 11 and 12 cruised by. We ran along the edge of Pineview Reservoir, the sun barely popping up over the Wasatch Mountains to the west of the lake.

“This is beautiful,” a woman from Hawaii said. She had been running with David and me since we turned north at the Huntsville junction.

She was right. The sun fell onto the ripples of water that lapped up against the grassy shoreline of Pineview, and the Eden fields stretched out green and fertile and were tipped with yellow when they met the sun.

We hit 13.1 at 1:51. Well on pace.

Miles 14, 15, 16, rolled by too, and David ran beside me. He shed his shirt.

Mile 17. I felt good. We were well ahead of schedule.

Then the pacer zipped passed me, turning down the canyon toward the dinosaur park. In my mind, I thought, he must know what he’s doing, even though David had told me we were on pace.

Not consulting my friend, I took off after the pacer, doing my best to pass him before we popped out onto the river parkway trail that would take us most of the way to the finish line.

David hung back. I figured it was because his lack of training had finally caught up to him. But it wasn’t.

I passed the pacer at mile 19 and kept pushing, feeling pretty good, until I hit mile 21, where my wheels fell off.

I had hit the wall. As runners, we know this feeling. It’s like someone had intravenously piped wet concrete into your body, and it hardened immediately, blocks hanging from your waist instead of legs.

Along with 30 or 40 other people, the pacer passed me and then disappeared around a rocky canyon corner in Ogden Canyon.

I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see David. He had caught back up, and he looked good, not beaten like me.

“You had to be running in the low sevens because I was running in the mid-eights,” he said. “Why did you take off?”

“The pacer,” was the only thing I could get out of my mouth.

I stopped for the first time at the dinosaur park and multiple more times until we hit Washington Avenue. Each time, instead of ditching me like he could have, David told me to keep moving, told me that I had trained to finish strong and that he wasn’t going to let me walk the rest of the way.

Four hours hit when we had 1.5 miles left to run.

I stopped again, defeated.

“Nope, let’s go,” David said. And we did. We went until we crossed the line together 15 minutes later.

As runners, we’ve all been lucky to have our Davids during a hard race, a friend who keeps us going and knows what we can accomplish and doesn’t let us forget it. Hopefully, we’ve all been a David and helped someone else cross the line.

Our gear doesn’t care about us. It will chafe us and cut us, but our running friends don’t.

I promised David 26 beers, one for every mile, and I think I still owe him 25.

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