This past week I made some new friends in the running community. And I didn’t even go to a race. I read about a Utah man, Josh Bryant, who was running the state of Utah from Arizona to Idaho for his 30th birthday. He was pushing a baby jogger full of supplies and moving his way north each day. I really wanted to join him, but couldn’t drive down south to help out. Finally, last Wednesday he got close enough I could hang with him.
Wednesday night I followed his SPOT tracker down to Utah county and found Josh in Lindon. He had several people with him, but I introduced myself and asked if I could join the party. I only planned to stay about 2 hours, but ended up leap frogging him for about 5 1/2 hours. (Meaning I would walk with Josh, then get back to my vehicle (usually running), then run again, etc.
The last 4 hours I pushed the baby jogger. Josh called it The Eagle – I call it The Beast. He got it for a great deal on KSL.com. Next time – get one with a moveable front wheel….. By the time we got to American Fork, all of the other followers had dropped off and it was just Josh and I. I could tell he was really hurting (shin splints hit that day) and decided I would hang with him until Lehi. When we got to the point in American Fork where Rte 89 turned, I told him I would run the 3 miles back to my car and then meet him up ahead with some hot chocolate.
I have to admit, running alone in American Fork after midnight is a bit creepy – especially in the areas where there were few lights. I passed Josh just as he was about to go under the freeway and found some hot chocolate for him and came back. At this point he was in Lehi and limping pretty badly. I was concerned because I had hoped he would be a lot farther at this point in time. When I gave him the hot chocolate I asked him if he wanted to sit in my car to warm up and he answered, “YES!,” with no hesitation. I turned on the seat warmers and heat full blast for him. We talked as he sat there recovering. I could tell he was really depressed. We discussed various options and he decided that it would be best to call it quits for the night and get a good recovery sleep under him before continuing. Moving at less than 1.5 mph was taking more energy than it was worth.
We waited for his uncle to pick him up and then I headed home to sleep (which didn’t really happen). I told him that I would probably hook up with him when he hit 90th South and State Street the next day.
Thursday afternoon I joined Josh again. This time I had my friend drop me off because I didn’t want to leap frog and could take Trax home when needed. We found him just after Scheel’s at about 11200 South. He was happy to see me because the people that had joined him earlier had just dropped off the run. Fox 13 News was following him and we would see them show up off and on all afternoon. It kept us entertained and helped to pass the time. I was glad I came earlier because he mentioned he was counting the time until he hit 90th South so that I would join him.
Fox 13 interviewed me while we stopped at the REAL Stadium for Josh to take a picture and fix a flat that just occurred. The reporter was really surprised to hear that I had just met him the day before and was giving up all my time and energy to help him. That is what ultrarunners do.
Josh was really excited to finally see his wife and three children around 5 p.m. They hadn’t seen each other in over a week. He also had some brothers and his grandfather join us over the course of the day.
I only planned to run with Josh until about 6 p.m. – thinking he might get some more company to help him out. Since I was the only one – I continued with him until Liberty Park where he called it a night again. We found out that there are some really sketchy places along State Street in between I-80 and Liberty Park. I was so tired pushing The Beast and could not imaging how he pushed that thing for days on end by himself. And I even got home to see that I got some face time on the news.
Friday and Saturday I stalked him from Facebook. On Saturday I put my long run on hold in case he needed help – but he turned into the Pied Piper with various people running along with him – so he was good.
Saturday night he took a break with a little over 21 miles to go. I asked him if he wanted help on Sunday and he said he would love it, so packed up my gear and set my alarm for 3 a.m. to head up north. No real need for that – I only slept about 30 minutes total.
Sunday morning I headed up towards Tremonton to see how exciting extreme northern Utah was. Dang it was cold! We started running as a group of 4 at about 5:30 a.m. Or rather – walking. Josh could not run at that point. The group grew to 6 and we traded off some people, but we continued onward and upward. The Beast was in the trunk of a car for finish line pictures and Josh’s wife leapfrogged us all day. At our first rest we found out it was 21 degrees out. No wonder we were cold! We anxiously waited for the sun to come up so we could quit freezing.
Fast forward to the end – 23.6 miles later we finished. At 20 miles Josh was suddenly able to run and run fast. I think he was “smelling the barn door.” I couldn’t even keep up with him. He had a huge group of family and friends waiting at the border and finished his adventure after 11 long days on the road.
So – I made new friends, got some training in, and learned about Utah from up close. Thanks, Josh, for letting me tag along.