Wednesday , August 16, 2017 - 3:51 PM
The Ogden Pub Runners not-for-profit organization aims to promote fitness at all levels, encourage social and responsible drinking, and support locally and independently owned watering holes. Kase Johnstun is a member of the group.
Last week, on a hot night in July standing out back at The Shooting Star Saloon, my friend Chuck took off his shoe and handed it to me.
Sweat and salt and human detritus caked up on the shoe’s edges, if I could see this or not, and I ran my fingers along the synthetics that had, one moment earlier, cradled the 60-year-old man’s sweaty sock.
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“It’s so light,” I said. Then I passed it to another friend who stood next to me. He had no idea he would be given a shoe to hold while he stood there with a light beer — one that tastes like water after a long run in the sun in the arid Utah summer — but he too grabbed the shoe, tossed it in the air and smiled.
Two more people would grab the shoe, run their hands along its base and edges and traction, and use their hands like scales (one person taking their shoe off and unscientifically comparing the two) to judge its worthiness before the shoe was placed back on Chuck’s foot.
These rituals are not uncommon after Ogden Pub Runs and amongst Ogden Pub Runners.
Story continues below the picture.
This summer, like I’ve said, has been hot. It hasn’t mattered how late we push our weekly run back — the thin, dry air of Northern Utah mixed with many days without rain and then mixed again with triple-digit temperature make nightly runs nearly unbearable, but our biggest groups of the year gather during those hot nights in late July and early August.
Why? With the heat, most of us rely on each other to get our runs in, to pound the hot blacktop and to commiserate in pain; the cold, light beer at the end of the run helps too, like a lighthouse (lounge) beckons lost runners who are nearly as drenched as sailors of centuries past, their sweat as heavy on their clothes as the sea water that rose and fell on captains of wooden ships.
And we do this every week or have done this every week for the last four years.
We run out together.
When we return from our runs, especially in the summer months, the expensive athletic gear will be soaked through, the fabric clinging to legs and chests and backs and arm hairs.
Runners’ faces will be bright red, and some will be traced with white lines of dried salt that has begun to cake outside their pores.
But the appearance is only a precursor to the smell. Languid torsos release a stench — our worn-in running shoes, 5-year-old (favorite) running shirts, armpits, cologne, perfume, back-of-the-neck buildup, and our dry and rotten post-run breath — that follows us down the road like Pigpen from Peanuts and into our favorite watering holes, local pubs in Ogden and the surrounding area.
So this is where the apology begins. We’re sorry for the smell, for the rampant odor of runners that clings to air-conditioned air when we walk through the door and lingers there until we leave, for the pools of sweat left on seats that servers have to wipe off, for the red faces and sweaty necklines and matted arm hair, for the sheer number of us that cram into your bar and ask for beer all at the same time, and for a group of people who take their shoes off and pass them around only inches from your other patrons.
We are a running group that is now 4 years old. Think of other 4-year-olds. We are still in our infancy. We are still growing, getting bigger and unfamiliar with our collective and awkward body.
But like children do with their parents, we only show our most rotten side to you: local owners and locally owned bars.
You will not see us at chain restaurants. You will not see us, as a group, giving our money to someone who lives out of state (to the best of our knowledge) because we love you, so we’re sorry for our talk about blisters and scabs and chafing and sweat and hydration and hangovers and vomiting on race day.
And we’re sorry about taking our shoes off and passing them around, but like sailors beckoned in by your beer or your children giving you their worst sides, we are yours, your OGDEN Pub Runners.
Thank you to all the bars who love us. You will see us soon.
Cheers to year five!
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