BYU Homecoming Cougar Run creates uplifting, invigorating experience for participants

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Participants of BYU Homecoming Cougar Run’s 5K begin the race. The BYU Homecoming Cougar Run’s 5K began at the BYU Clarence F. Robinson Track. (Amy Ortiz)

Students, alumni and kids of all ages participated in the BYU Homecoming Cougar Run held Oct. 21 at the BYU Clarence F. Robison Track.

Held annually since the early 1980s, the BYU Homecoming Cougar Run is an opportunity for all to join a “spirited tradition of repping the Y through campus,” as well as to contribute to the BYU Track and Cross Country teams’ funding, according to the event’s website.

This year’s Homecoming Cougar Run kicked off with a variety of races for children, ages one through 12. Following the kids races, 5K-run participants gathered to begin their race, each with diverse goals and motivations in mind.

Sarah O’Neal, a BYU sophomore studying psychology, shared her excitement and motivation to try something challenging after having struggled with running and physical activity in the past because of different complications.

“Having this opportunity to run is really huge for me and will feel like an accomplishment in the end, no matter what my timing is,” O’Neal said.

Mirroring O’Neal’s enthusiasm, Sarah Foote, a BYU alum from Lindon, explained she was drawn to this event because after having trained for a marathon all summer, she wanted to come and see her progress at her old university. Foote also expressed her gratitude for the event and its organization.

“I just think the atmosphere is really wholesome, uplifting and fun — they’ve done a really good job organizing it and making it a really good experience for everyone,” Foote said.

Although the BYU Homecoming Cougar Run has been a long-standing tradition, this year’s 5K-run participants ran along a different trail because of ongoing campus construction.

5K participants raced with the support of friends and family. This year’s trail for the 5K run was different because of ongoing campus construction. (Amy Ortiz)

According to the registration website, Runner Card, this new trail had participants begin at the BYU track, run around the north part of campus and through to the south end of campus before making their way back to the track toward the finish line.

While this course was different from previous Cougar Runs, 5K-run participants still found the trail challenging.

“The most challenging part was the beginning, when it went straight uphill,” Whitney Banz, a BYU sophomore majoring in exercise and wellness, said. “It kind of hurt your lungs a little bit (and) made it a little harder to breathe.”

Despite the challenge, Banz expressed she enjoyed the race and would do it again. Quinn Wright, a BYU junior studying statistics, shared Banz’s sentiment.

“The uphill at the beginning was kind of brutal but I was able to overcome that and I was able to get a good time,” Quinn Wright said.

BYU Homecoming Cougar Run participants enjoyed BYU’s famous blue pancakes after their races. Pancakes were provided courtesy of Kodiak Cakes. Cougar Run participants were able to enjoy the pancakes after they finished competing. (Amy Ortiz)

After sharing his positive experience, Ben Wright, a BYU freshman on the pre-dental track, encouraged all to participate in BYU’s future events for the Homecoming Cougar Run.

“I didn’t want to come alone and so my motivation for others would just be to do it with friends,” Ben Wright said. “Find someone to drag along with you — it makes it a lot more fun and you’ll get here and be surprised at all the people you know.”

Ben Wright also shared another huge motivator for him was BYU’s famous blue pancakes. All Cougar Run participants were able to enjoy the blue Kodiak Cakes after the races were completed.

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