Provo residents find community through running

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In Provo, runners are out and about during all hours of the day. This is made possible by Provo’s abundance of trails, local races and strong running culture.

“I do think that there is a big running culture in Provo,” said Kenzie Hess, who is currently training for a marathon. “It’s fun to be able to just see so many people out running.”

A group of Provo residents participate in the Provo Temple to Temple 5k in 2022. People enjoy running as an activity to do with friends. (Courtesy of Emma Freestone Erickson)

Hess, a BYU senior, started running during high school and continued training once she moved to college. Hess said that after returning from serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she no longer had a team to run with, so she joined the BYU Running Club. Hess has enjoyed the friendships she made through the club and having people to run and do workouts with. 

“The running community and the other people that I meet through running are just incredible friends,” Hess said. “It’s fun to be able to push my body to do hard things and see my body like, do hard things I didn’t think I could do.”

Hess prioritizes running because she has seen that it makes her more productive in other areas of her life as well. 

Hess cited the BYU cross country team, people feeling safe in Provo and the number of local races as factors that draw runners to the area and make the sport so popular. According to Racemob, there are 44 races within 50 miles of Provo between May 27 and Dec. 31.

Ella Hansen, a California native studying psychology at BYU, is also training for a marathon later this year, and enjoys running for the stress relief it provides. 

Ella Hansen talks about why she enjoys running. Hansen is an avid runner, waking up at 5:30 a.m. most days to get a run in. (Annika Ohran)
Emma Freestone Erickson, a Provo resident, enjoys a run in the mountains near Provo. Many people in Provo enjoy running as a pastime. (Courtesy of Emma Freestone Erickson)

Hansen prioritizes her running time by waking up early to run before work and school. It was a little difficult to find people training for half marathons or marathons she could talk about racing with, Hansen said, but she feels casual running is very common in Provo. 

Hansen thinks running is so popular in the area because it is the cheapest way to workout.

“You buy a pair of running shoes and you’re set,” Hansen said. 

Running does not require paying for a gym membership and is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, according to Hansen. It is also convenient since there is no required travel time — as soon as you leave the house you can start your workout. 

Sara Diener is another Provo runner and participates in the BYU Running Club although she studies at UVU. Diener wanted to improve her training and joined the club for fun and to see how fast she could get. She wants to break five minutes in the mile and improve her longevity to eventually run a half marathon or marathon. 

“I just love the way that my body feels after I’ve been running for a long time. And I just feel like yeah, I’m so strong, I’m so powerful, I can do these like, hard things. And that’s incredible,” Diener said. 

The Provo River Parkway is one running location in the Provo Area. Runners said they enjoy the easy access to mountains and trails. (Annika Ohran)

Diener thinks there are a variety of reasons why running is popular in Provo. Some people, like Diener and Hess, enjoyed running in high school and want to keep training. Diener also mentioned that culturally there is a big health focus in Utah Valley, and running is a good way for people to stay in shape and feel like they are taking care of their body.

Diener admits she is more intense with her training than the average runner, but when she talks about running it is common for other people to respond that they also like running or went on a run that day.

“Generally people are active here and running is a part of that,” Diener said. 

There are many options for places to run in the Provo area, which also promotes a thriving running community.

Hess enjoys trails such as Lover’s Lane and the Indian Trail Head, as well as running around BYU campus. Hansen also likes running around Provo to either of the two Latter-day Saint temples, as well as the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Diener likes running on Carterville Road and returning to her hometown of Draper to run on the trails there.

Great Runs, a guide to great running locations, also mentions the Provo River Parkway, Murdock Canal Trail, Rock Canyon, Y Mountain and the Utah Lake area. 

Diener said if someone is interested in finding people to run with, they should start asking around their complex or neighborhood, as there are many people that already run. They can also join groups on Facebook or the BYU Running Club. Hansen advised people to get a good pair of shoes and make sure to bring a safety precaution such as pepper spray if they are running at night. 

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