Photographers and family members gazed at a scene of scattered rose petals leading to an aisle crowded by lawn chairs and vine-covered pillars, but what made the scene peculiar were the running shoes.
Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City recently hosted the “Soul 2 Soul 5K”, a unique new race incorporating a wedding theme and relationship-building exercises. The race featured several obstacles designed to represent real challenges people face in relationships.
“Life doesn’t always end up being that nice little home in a cul-de-sac with a white picket fence,” said Matt Lyons, owner of BrideAccess, the title sponsor and organizer of the event. “Many of us achieve that, but behind that fence, often times life just doesn’t go perfectly. That doesn’t mean it’s any fault of your own – it’s just challenges.”
Lyons said he hopes the race would help give participants a reason to open the lines of communication in their relationships, whether that relationship is with a boyfriend, a fiance, a spouse, a friend or even a family member.
“It’s those people around us that help buoy us up and help lift us and help carry us through sometimes the hardest challenges that we face in life,” Lyons said. “The race will … symbolically represent that aspect in helping people realize that challenges are inevitable, but they’re also overcome-able.”
Matt Christensen and Kristy Uzelac, both from Salt Lake City, are dating and showed up together to run the race for fun.
“A relationship isn’t always going to be a straight line,” Uzelac said. “There’s always going to be curves, but if you go through it together, then you’ll make it out.”
One of those curves was in the form of an obstacle sponsored by Strongermarriage.org. Volunteers held signs that runners had to dodge as they passed. The signs contained interesting messages designed to get people talking.
“The signs were good,” said Christensen. “We did talk about toilet paper.”
Cortney Wright, also from Salt Lake City, ran with her husband Donovan and was joined by their two daughters at the finish line. She said just having her husband there really helped her finish the race – a difficult task since she is four months pregnant.
“He kept me going because I wanted to stop,” Wright said. “I think any time we do active stuff together it brings us closer.”
A local business that got involved with creating an obstacle was Kisstixxx, a lip balm company in Orem. Casey Petersen, Marketing Director from Sandy, said he loves getting involved with community events such as the race and believes their product and gimmick fit perfectly with the obstacle.
“Listening to your partner, communicating back and forth is how you’re going to make it through the obstacle just like in relationships and marriage especially,” Petersen said. “When you’re done you get a kiss with our mystery flavor lip balm.”
Not all the businesses involved with the event set up obstacles for the race. Many vendors and co-sponsors of the event set up displays for the after-race festivities under tents in the park. The events included a fashion show, a bounce house for the kids, a silent auction and prize drawings.
In bringing so many wedding and event professionals together, Lyons said he hopes the event and the BrideAccess website can be useful resources to those planning such important celebrations.
“We have a lot of really talented people here in Utah who can help us amplify that memory in our minds and help make that day a special occasion for a significant other,” Lyons said. “What’s special is just doing a little bit extra that will make a great big difference in creating a memory that will be lasting.”
The event also took donations and donated some of the proceeds to a local charity organization for abused children, the Christmas Box House.
“People can come together and not only show love for each other – but let’s show some love for those in need,” Lyons said.