SALT LAKE CITY — On the morning of July 24, 1997, friends Tim Einfeldt and Alan Julian laced up their running shoes and toed the starting line for what would be a 26.2 mile run — the Deseret News Marathon.
Both accomplished runners in their own right, the two friends had trained together for years, having completed marathons before. Not taking for granted the long distance ahead of them, the two began their journey, looking forward to the eventual finish in the Salt Lake Valley below.
About 20 miles into the race, Einfeldt began to struggle. Hitting what is known as “the wall,” Einfeldt began to question his ability to finish the race. “My legs and feet were hurting, and I could feel every pebble on the street.”
Seeing his friend struggle, Julian encouraged him to keep moving, telling his friend of all the things that were ahead, including spectators along the upcoming parade route. Staying by his side through the finish, Julian grabbed Einfeldt’s hand, raising it in triumph. With tears in his eyes, Einfeldt was glad for the finish, but even more grateful for the kindness and service of his friend that day.
This experience of trial, service and personal triumph, parallels well something that took place over 100 years before — on that very same day, and on the very same stretch of land.
In the winter of 1846, LDS Church leader Brigham Young led thousands of church members in a trek from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Salt Lake Valley.
In what ended up being a 1,297 mile journey by foot, faithful pioneers endured countless hardships along the way. Many lost their lives, with countless others falling victim to the harsh elements, illness and fatigue — almost all questioning at one time or another, if they would be able to complete the journey.
But with the help and encouragement of family, friends, and even strangers, along with their undying faith, tens of thousands of pioneers were able to reach their goal of the Salt Lake Valley, with the first group of entering on July 24, 1847.
It is no coincidence that each year, on July 24, hundreds of runners lace up their shoes and run the Deseret News Classic Marathon. In what is the “oldest road race in Utah and the oldest marathon west of the continental divide,” the Deseret News Marathon has a rich history that reaches far beyond the race.
With that same pioneer spirit, runners of the marathon embark on new things and reach new goals. Each endures hardships along the way, all the while, encouraging and being encouraged by others, in hopes that all will cross that finish line in the Salt Lake Valley.
Organizers of the event invite runners everywhere to participate in the event this coming July 24. With accompanying 5K, 10K and half marathon distances — all running along the Days of 47 parade route — all runners will be able to retrace some portion of the courageous steps of the Utah Pioneers.
To register for the event, go to deseretnewsclassic.com
Arianne Brown is a mother of six who loves running the beautiful trails around Utah. For more articles by her, like her Facebook page or visit her blogs, timetofititin.com or thestoriesofyourlife.wordpress.com.