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Every runner finishes with a story
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Though he's only 11 years old, Alexander Barry thinks like someone who's much older.

He doesn't like to do the same things his friends do.

His friends participate in 5K and 10K races. But on Saturday, Barry decided he'd top them all by running the half marathon.

His time of 1 hour, 37 minutes, 32 seconds was so impressive that he had to wait about a half-hour for his dad, who ran the same event, to finish. "My dad's coming," he said while being interviewed.

Halfway through, Barry was feeling fatigued. It was, after all, his longest race ever. But he couldn't let his thoughts of giving up manifest into something real. Child prodigies just don't quit like that. Brigham Young assistant coach Doug Padilla spotted Barry's talent at a race some time ago and has given the Willow Canyon Elementary student pointers ever since.

At the race's midpoint, Barry said, "I was just trying to get my mind-set to that I'm going to do it."

That was very mature of him.

Bill Cobler, 44, Salt Lake City

Marathon time: 2:59:08

Before Saturday, Bill Cobler had a pulled left hamstring. He could have resigned himself from running the 26.2-mile race, but he had already ran the previous four Salt Lake City Marathons.

He didn't want the streak to end.

If Cal Ripken never stopped playing because of some silly injury - thus preventing him from throwing out base runners in 2,632 consecutive games in his Major League Baseball career - why should Cobler?

"I could see myself easily doing this for the next 20 years," he said.

If he had quit, it wouldn't be the kind of example he'd like his family to see of him. His son, 12-year-old Dakota, and his wife, Kim, both ran the half-marathon, while his daughter, 16-year-old Brieanna, was a family spectator because her East High track team had a meet Saturday.

Cobler even had Demetrio Cabanillas, who's a local coach and a Mexican national champion in the marathon, massage his hurt leg the night before the big race. But the pain came anyway, around the 4-mile mark.

Again, he thought about quitting then.

It was just that he couldn't, because of the streak.

Taylor Cannon, 25, Salt Lake City

Marathon time: 3:25:13

Keri Cannon, 25, Salt Lake City

Half-marathon time: 1:35:32

What Taylor Cannon did to keep himself going, to keep himself from being a quitter in his fourth career marathon, was to find targets along the way. It could be a street light, it could a light pole, it could be anything. He'd pass that target and create another one to go for.

But then the ultimate target came running his way near the finish line.

It was his wife, Keri Cannon.

The couple jogged to the finish line together, and as he crossed, he immediately fell into his wife's arms.

"This sucks, dude," Taylor said, while he was cooling down from the race.

As he talked, he'd stumble sideways as his eyes looked to be wandering somewhere behind his head. But Keri was right there to catch him, and even answered some questions for him.

Keri had already finished her half marathon, and declined to get the post-race treatments - like a massage or two - to wait for her husband. Taylor actually ended his interview early, asking to leave because he needed to walk it off.

Before then, he was asked, "What are you going to do now?"

"Sleep for days," he answered.

Chris Worthington, 23, South Jordan

Marathon time: 3:45:41

Chris Worthington is a tall, athletic 23-year-old. Some people with his health and his build wouldn't even think about running an emotional and physical drainer known as the marathon.

But Worthington doesn't want to be one of those people.

"I'm fortunate to be able to do this," he said. "I find motivation because there are people who are with disabilities who would love to run a marathon but can't."

Worthington's childhood friend, Mitch Curtis, died a year ago from muscular dystrophy after having spent most of his life in a wheelchair.

When they were younger, Curtis was quite an athlete until the disease took over.

Worthington will continue to run more marathons, while he studies landscape architect at Utah State. In the next five months, he plans to run five more marathons.

At Mile 19, Worthington's body was beginning to shut down. But there was no way he was going to stop.

Take a guess as to why.

Kuangshi Wu, 30, Salt Lake City

Marathon time: 3:54:23

Kuangshi Wu wore the type of shirt that stood out during Saturday's Salt Lake City Marathon. Not just because it was bright red.

But because of the country that was printed on the front. It read "China." It represented his country. And in his country sits Beijing, Wu's home city for 10 years before he moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah.

It's important to know all this because he has something to say about the crisis the city of Beijing is having. There have been calls of boycotting the Olympic Summer Games in Beijing because of human-rights issue, as protestors have voiced their concern whenever the Olympic torch makes an appearance in their city, such as San Francisco and Paris.

"I wish everyone can enjoy the spirit of the sport," Wu said. "Especially the Olympic Games. I'd like to suggest anyone in this planet to please do not boycott any Olympic Game, no matter which country is holding it."

Erin Blundell is a list-maker. She writes herself reminders like "Do laundry," or "Go grocery shopping." She makes daily lists and weekly lists. She likes to make lists so she can cross things off. She doesn't cross off just mundane tasks. On Saturday, she could run a big, red marker through "Finish a marathon."

"It's just something I wanted to check off on my life list," Blundell said. "I could have trained more and maybe I could have gone faster, but I'm happy I ran the whole way."

What made the task such an accomplishment is that Blundell isn't a runner. Though she was a top swimmer for the University of Utah - she is among the all-time top 10 times in the 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 200 butterfly - she trained since February to prepare for the marathon. She ran every day and eventually got up to running 19 miles in one training session, the longest she had run up until she ran Saturday's marathon.

The next thing on her life list?

"Biking from Logan to Jackson," Blundell said. "Or do triathlon."

Cougar Hall, 35, Eagle Mountain

Marathon time: 3:53:17

It was a big task, but Cougar Hall, a health and physical education teacher at East Shore High School in Orem, knew it could be accomplished with a little motivation and of course, preparation.

He put his P.E. classes through a 36-week training schedule to help prepare his students for the Salt Lake City Marathon. The program started in September and started out with 32 students. As time went on, kids dropped out and the number dwindled.

But Hall couldn't be happier for the eight students who completed the marathon and six others who finished the half marathon.

"This was great, not just for fitness, but just to show them they can do hard things," Hall said.

When his students started training, they would run one minute and then walk two minutes. None of the kids had trained to run long distances before. Michael Gilchrist, a student who finished the marathon in 4:12:36, said it was hard for him to even finish two miles at the beginning of the school year.

"I didn't think I could finish 26 miles," Gilchrist said. "The best thing is working for something you've never done before and you never even thought you could do."

Jeff Rowland, 36, West Jordan

Marathon time: 3:22:07

His time wasn't as good as he hoped for. Of the nine marathons that Jeff Rowland has run in, this was not his best effort.

He wasn't feeling good, he hit a wall when he hit Van Winkle and 500 East - around the 18th mile on the course - and contemplated walking the three miles to the finish line once he got to Liberty Park.

But, something was keeping him going, and all he had to do to be reminded of it was look down at his shirt.

On the front it read, "Run for Life For Nancy" and had a picture of his aunt Nancy, who is battling colon cancer.

"I got the idea midway through my training that I would run for her," Rowland said. "She's the motivation today."

The conditions weren't ideal. There was a strong headwind for most of the first half that took a lot of energy out of Rowland. Despite the setbacks, Rowland wanted to persevere, just like his aunt has been doing since her diagnosis.

"She's had cancer for a year and a half," Rowland said. "She's certainly had her ups and downs, her close calls, but she's hanging in there."

Mackenzie Casey, 31, Eagle Mountain

5K time: 1:03:29

Mackenzie Casey wanted to know what she could do to help her niece, Sadie Huish. In these kind of situations, it's easy to feel helpless. When Sadie was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer last month, Casey didn't know what to do. Casey decided to organize a group to walk or run in the 5K to help raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Institute, the hospital Sadie goes to for treatment.

Casey was overwhelmed by the support, as close to 100 people participated in the 5K in honor of Sadie. Everybody involved was informed by word of mouth. Most of the supporters wore pink shirts that read Team Sadie in the upper left corner and the number 5, Sadie's age, on the back.

The Riverton softball team also ran for Sadie and wore jerseys with her name and age splattered across the back.

"I'm willing to do anything to contribute to a miracle and that's what we need," Casey said. "You never know who is going to know who or what's going to take place. I hope this [is the start to] a miracle."

Kyle Acord, Dugway, 20

Marathon time: 4:30:46

Kyle Acord loves a challenge, even if that challenge results in failure. That failure drives him even more.

Acord - who has been in the military for about two years now - ran his first marathon, the Bataan Death March, last month. He thought he was ready. He thought he trained properly. He was wrong.

When he hit the 21st mile, his body shut down. His body cramped up. A volunteer asked Acord what he was drinking. He said, "Gatorade," to which the volunteer replied, "That will kill you."

She gave him some magnesium and potassium pills, but he couldn't keep up his pace. He finished that marathon in five hours and 10 minutes.

"I had a hard lesson in my first marathon. When I first ran it, I had a vision of how I was going to run it," Acord said. "Doing bad in the first one just motivated me even more for this one."

He had three weeks between the Bataan Death March and the Salt Lake City Marathon. He took two weeks to recover and used the last week to prepare. This time, he finished the race how he envisioned it. He finished with a time of 4:30:46.

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