RUNNING TO REMEMBER (Star Valley Wyoming - July 2011)
We’ve run several memorial races. Oklahoma City remembered a bombing and the survivors. Boston ran for fallen law enforcement officers. Both were great races with great messages. However, neither of them hit quite as close to home as the Star Valley half-marathon on the 9th of July. The personal and family connections in this run made it particularly memorable. First, it was put on by the Bart and Denise Kunz family.
Bart and I served together on our missions in North Germany many years ago – and knew each other well – with Bart leaving the mission field committed to marrying his long-time sweetheart, Denise, as soon as he got home. They’ve been together ever since. Second, it was run in memory of their son, Jeremy, who was killed while participating in the Ragnar Las Vegas relay in the fall of 2009. The Kunz family had fielded a relay team and Jeremy was killed in the middle of the night by a drunk driver, while supporting a team runner – within blocks of my daughter Emily’s home in Henderson. Third – this became Emily’s first half-marathon – picked in part because of the connection to Jeremy and his family. All of these were strong reasons to run in Star Valley as our Wyoming race.
It was a relatively small race – but Thayne, Wyoming, is a relatively small place. Notwithstanding the size, the Kunz’ made sure it was a run to remember.
There was a decent spaghetti/carbo load dinner the night before the race; the race was pretty-well supported; the scenery was nice; the pictures of Jeremy and family touching; and the general downhill orientation of the course welcome – especially given the altitude of 6000-7000’. There was also fair food and refreshment after the race, and a whole raft of prizes given out to participants which, admittedly, took quite a while in the sun. It was also memorable as Emily’s first half-marathon, which she completed after running the entire course – without being lifted, driven, pushed or prodded! Jared also ran the race with us. (Way to go, Emily! Your airfare to Hawaii is secure. ) He and Karen ran the course with Emily. After finishing I ran back a mile or two to finish with them, as well. Overall – a great choice for our Wyoming race – and a great opportunity to reconnect with Bart and meet his family.
Since this run followed directly on the heels of our Johnson Pups reunion in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, our “race-travel” was really connected with the reunion. In fact, Dacia, Joe and their girls joined us on the trip to Star Valley and were our most ardent supporters during the race! (Not to mention the best baby-sitters we could have asked for.) The trip reminded us what a gorgeous range the Sawtooths are!
We enjoyed some great hiking, rafting, games and food – notwithstanding Rachel getting really sick a couple of days and the snow still being so low in the mountains as to preclude us from the multi-day backpacking we had planned. Until we get a really good backpacking trip there it will remain on our bucket list.
It was nice to have some time with the entire family and, as usual, we did not let grass grow under our feet as we explored the area. There were lots of enjoyable family activities during the reunion and a special “memorial” activity which recognized and commemorated each of the Pups with a personal shirt reflecting the order in which they joined the litter, I mean family.
Different things motivate different people. Many runners take strength from a memorial theme – and that has certainly been the case for me. When you know what motivates and inspires you – ride it or, better yet, run it.
Father of five; husband of one! Grandfather of twelve. Twenty-five years of commissioned military service, then nine years working on a government contract to destroy a portion of the nation's chemical weapons and munitions stockpile. Have lived in Europe eight years, on both coasts of the US and several places in between. After running our second half-marathon together in March 2007, Karen and I decided we enjoyed it and the associated travel enough to set out on a quest to run a half-marathon in all 50 states. We completed the quest in January 2012 in Hawaii - with the entire family there and many participating with us. We've now also completed running a half-marathon together in each of the 10 Canadian Provinces. Like to run and it often gives me time to think - and some of those thoughts need a sounding board or just might be worth sharing.
Recently hired to be the Orchestra Teacher at Timpanogos HS in Orem UT. Looking forward to starting in Aug 2014.