Last year, after Melissa and I participated in the Red Rock Relay, I began to question why there wasn’t a major running event down American Fork Canyon. Shortly thereafter, I decided to measure the distance from American Fork Hospital to Tibble Fork Reservoir to see how close it was to 13.1 miles. Much to my satisfaction, it was exactly 12.8 miles. I was confident we could wind our way through a neighborhood to reach the full half marathon distance.
I immediately called my close friend and colleague, Ethan Shumway, to share my vision for hosting a half marathon down AF Canyon concluding at American Fork Hospital with the purpose of building awareness around our hospital services.
I called the Utah Department of Transportation, State Forest Service, and City Mayors to gauge their level of support. All initial indicators suggested this could be a real possibility. My initial optimism was challenged as different government agencies began to hedge against permitting our race. From September through March, a lot of really great people worked with us to finally acquire all the necessary permits to host the first ever half marathon down American Fork Canyon. For logistical reasons, we had to conclude the race at American Fork High School. During this time we also secured a $10,000 sponsorship from great people at SelectHealth.
From the moment we had permits and a title sponsor, we pulled together the coolest group of people on the planet to organize this event. While there are a lot of people I could/should mention by name, I really could not have done this without the hard work of 3 key people-Holly Hardy, Craig Nielsen, and Laura Salazar. From the very beginning they saw the vision of the event. We also added, the Fat Cyclist and The Runner/Hammer (check out fatcyclist.com to better understand how cool this is), to our team. We determined that any proceeds from the event would go to cancer patients in the community who were unable to pay for their required treatments.
One day, while running along Westfield Road, I was trying to think of a tagline for our marketing campaign. I started to think about my close friend Kris, who was in the middle of battling breast cancer. As I ran in the shadows of my favorite maple trees, the tagline “Live.Survive.Thrive” came to me. Kris is the embodiment of this tagline. She just finished her reconstruction and is already planning to run the St. George marathon this fall. She knows what it means to thrive.
Throughout the planning of this event I gained a lot more compassion for other race directors. There are so many details to consider. Again, there is no way I could have done it without a great team of people who shared the same vision.
After months of planning it all came together on June 25–the first ever half marathon down AF Canyon. It was a huge success. We had over 880 registered runners for the half and 430 for the 5k. As the reviews of the race poured in both on facebook and in the newspaper, it became apparent this event would become a legacy event for a lot of people.
Melissa ran the half (she PR’d). Hannah and Maxwell ran the 5k. I was busy directing the race, so I didn’t get to see most of this, but they all had fun. I also need to give a shout out to Lane who acted as a consultant to me throughout this project. From multiple angles, his advice and hard work contributed to the success of the race.
So, after months of planning in anticipation for the race, 40+ hours on race day with no sleep, and the ongoing post race cleanup, was it worth it? Yes. We raised over $55k for cancer patients in our community. There is no reason why we can’t double that for next year. Although, next year I plan on running the race instead of directing it.