This year’s Morgan Valley Marathon raised funds once again for the family of local hero Landon Streadbeck who left us earlier in the year after a courageous year-long battle with cancer.
Landon would have been proud of his fellow Morgan athletes who showed strength and finished strong.
Superstar runner Rosy Lee was the first-place female marathon finisher and was only a few seconds behind overall-winner David Rule from Pinedale, Wyo.
Mike Hardy, who just came back from competing in the Olympic trials for steeplechase, took the overall first-place prize for the half marathon. The finisher closest behind taking second place overall was a whole 17 minutes behind him. However, that second place runner was only 15 years old. It was no small task for Morgan resident Carson Wilkins to come that close to an Olympic track athlete at such a young age.
The youngest half marathon runner was only 12 years old and the oldest, 72. There were five Morgan High School students who finished in the top 10 of their age group including Broc Matthews, Branden Brooks, Cameron Brooks, Carson Skidmore and Payton Bailey.
Morgan’s own Shannon Tripp and TJ Telford took second in their age groups for the half marathon and Jacob Welker, Jason Kilgore and Tausha Dingman all took third in their divisions.
John Stauder and Daron Haddock both topped their age groups encompassing those 50-69 years of age. Not only that, but Stauder took 12th place overall.
The top 10 of the 10K included three Morgan County residents. Hayden Thurston was the overall winner with Chris Vesper and Ryan Tripp placing sixth and 10th respectively. Vesper and Tripp also took first place in their divisions.
Vesper lost her husband, Paul, suddenly while vacationing in Puerto Rico in 2014. The day of the race was his birthday. It was a day to celebrate living in the moment “because you never know when it will be your last.” Vesper has said on many occasions, “The only bad ride, run, walk, hike, or workout is the one you didn’t do.” Her daughter, Sydnie Pappas, also ran the 5K to celebrate her “P-daddy.”
The youngest participant in this run was only 8 years old. In the 19 and under category, the top five places in the female division went almost entirely to Morgan residents with Carlee Toone in first place, Kimberly Birt in second, Bella Porter in third and Kallie Croft in fifth.
The top 10 in the male division of 19 and under participants showed Croydon residents taking the top three spots. Seth Wilkinson, Sam Wilkinson and Taite Toone were the top three finishers. Nathan Croft and Ryder Waldron were also in the top 10.
Doug Anderson took second in his division for the 10K and Morgan residents Kristianna Lundgreen, Jeffrey Lundgreen, Alyson Wilkinson and Vinda Preslar all took third place in their divisions.
It is exciting to see experienced runners cross the finish line either earning these top spots or surpassing a personal best. But it is equally rewarding to see the 5K runners of every age, ability, shape or size come across that finish line. It is a race designed for people at all levels to enjoy just getting out and being active.
During the 5K you see parents with strollers, caregivers pushing wheelchairs and smiles on every face. One particularly touching moment this year was watching Jackson Sommers and his mother, Katie, cross the finish line. You could see exhaustion, tears and smiles all at once as the duo came to the end of the race.
Katie said, “Watching Jackson be able to run when at one time in his life we were told that he would always need a walker to just walk was a very humbling experience. It always amazes me what people with special needs can teach us. They show us that through pure determination and will, anything is possible.”
She continued saying that, “After the race was done, Jack had such a big smile and I was overcome with emotion. He asked me if we could run again next year. He said that he was so excited that he did something he wasn’t sure if he could. Throughout the race, he kept encouraging himself. He would whisper ‘I can do this.’ We could all learn a lesson by not giving up on ourselves so easy and trying to tell ourselves…’I can do this’ more often. Such a special day, a moment I’ll never forget.”
Runners from all over have been training all year for this event, so organizers made every effort to ensure that it is a positive experience for everyone involved. Organizers include: Kim Turner, Heidi Eriksson, Liz Donaldson, Janet Pace, Aimee Ferrin and Tara Low. These Morgan County ladies and their families devote countless hours to making this a great event.
Morgan roads have been the training ground for runners for years. The beauty, fresh clean air and majestic mountains are the perfect backdrop, so hosting a certified marathon here was an easy decision. This scenic run got its beginnings as part of a commemoration of the Morgan County Fair’s 100-year anniversary and the community here has supported this event so well, the tradition has lived on for six years now.
Keeping with the tradition that started in 2011, the 100th year of the Morgan County Fair, the marathon awards the 100th runner who crosses the finish line $100. This year’s winner was 11 year-old Ellie Demond of Morgan.
The 2016 event had approximately 700 runners. Twenty-five states were represented this year, along with two entries from Canada.
The event begins the night before the run with a pasta dinner that is free to participants to help them “carb-up” for their runs. This is also where the runners would pick up their bib numbers, shirts and swag bags.
There is a great expense attached to organizing a marathon. Race permits, insurance, law enforcement, barricades, portable toilets, race shirts, medals, food and prizes….the list seems endless. Without sponsors and great local and community support, the marathon would not be possible. Organizers want to give a big “thank you” to all those involved.
All three races begin and end at the Morgan County Fairgrounds. The route has been certified again this year, so runners can use this race to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
One Morgan resident, after finishing the marathon, excitedly told a race director that he qualified for the Boston Marathon. After attempting to qualify at other marathons that have downhill courses, he finally qualified here in Morgan, which is not a downhill course, but a very true and honest race for all marathon runners.
There were many first-time marathon finishers as well as runners who have completed hundreds of marathons. John Bozung, who dedicated this race to his 20-year-old step son who passed away just three weeks ago, crossed the finish line at the Morgan Valley Marathon, making it his 402nd marathon.
If you have never participated in this event before, now is the perfect time to begin training for next year’s race. The run is incredibly well organized and the beautiful scenery and incredible workout you get is worth every sore muscle that may follow.
“The dedication, training and racing may not be easy, but it is worth it, every single step!” say race organizers. “The Morgan Valley Marathon is truly a special event, an experience that runners continue to come back for every year. Like Andrew Jensen of Taylorsville, who was proud to say that he has run the MVM all six years! We hope through this event, our community will be inspired to Do More…Be More…Run Morgan!!”