Thousands to participate in 2017 Utah Valley Marathon

Hundreds of athletes run along the Provo River during the 2016 Utah Valley Marathon. This year’s race will be held on June 10. (Utah Valley Marathon)

Provo Canyon has long been home to breathtaking scenic views, a rushing river, wildlife and countless recreational activities. It will also temporarily be home to thousands of runners participating in the Utah Valley Marathon on Saturday, June 10, 2017 — including a full marathon, a half marathon, a 10K and a 1K fun run for kids.

Only 240 runners participated in 2008, the first year of the marathon.

“That first year was a terrible disaster,” said Utah Valley Marathon race director Hyrum Oaks. “I mean, we had success for a first-year race, but after that first year, we started figuring out what to do better.”

The Utah Grand Slam competition made the Utah Valley Marathon one of its four required marathons in 2009, and the number of runners increased to 1,200. Year three there were 3,800 runners, and over 7,200 athletes participating in 2012.

“In 2014, Runner’s World magazine named our race a top-10 race in America,” Oaks said. “Running Times has written about us. Last year, USA Today selected our race to be part of its Sports Active Alliance. We’ve just gotten a ton of recognition. It’s pretty neat.”

Oaks and a few of his friends organized the race because they wanted to create a race in Utah County with a charitable cause. The Utah Valley Marathon benefits Mac’s Gift: Children’s Cancer Foundation and Charity Vision.

“The nice thing about these two charities is that pretty much every penny goes to the actual cause,” Oaks said. “There’s not a lot of overhead costs. That was one of the main criteria that we looked for in charitable causes for the race.”

The race is not only charitable, but also scenic. The race course starts in Wallsburg, Utah, and winds through Provo Canyon, with views of Bridal Veil Falls, mountains and the city of Provo. It finishes at the Utah County Courthouse park in downtown Provo.

BYU public health student Hailey Thomas is running the Utah Valley Half Marathon for the first time this year.

“My mom has always done marathons and Ironmans and triathlons,” Thomas said. “I always knew I wanted to do races too. It’s been a goal of mine for a while now.”

Thomas has been training indoors due to winter weather, but she said she’ll soon start running outside.

“I’m just starting out,” Thomas said. “I run 3 to 5 miles four times a week on the treadmill.”

Oaks said the Utah Valley Marathon and Half Marathon is a race for everyone, regardless of experience.

“It’s a great Boston qualifier race,” Oaks said. “It’s a good race for beginners, too, because of the downhill.”

BYU cross country and track athlete Jessie Mostert has been running since high school. She said beginner runners should ease into running.

“There is such a thing as ‘too much too soon,'” Mostert said. “Gradually start adding runs into your week or adding miles to runs you already do. Your body will thank you, and pesky injuries like shin splints will be less likely to occur.”

Mostert also said running is meant to be a social sport.

“It’s great every once in a while to just run with headphones and music or run alone and just think,” Mostert said. “But for those wanting to train for an event or get into lifelong running, it is best to find a training buddy. Running with others will help you get out of bed on those days when running sounds anything but appealing. Also, runs go so much faster and are much more enjoyable with a friend or two.”

This year is the marathon’s 10th anniversary. To celebrate, the race is including a 10th anniversary jacket with the registration cost. The jacket’s retail price is over $100.

“This is unlike any other year in race history,” Oaks said. “This jacket is awesome.”

If you want to run:

  • Register online.
  • Use promo code “BYU15” to get a discount.
  • Pick up your packet at the Utah Valley Convention Center on Friday, June 9 between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Plan ahead for parking — there will be no parking or drop-offs available at the starting line.
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