ST. GEORGE — On the morning of October 10, 47 competitors aged 14 to 41 and a 4-year-old dog waded into the South Reservoir in Colorado City, Arizona, to compete in the inaugural Short Creek Veterans Memorial Adventure Race.
The race began at 7:20 a.m. with a swim in South Reservoir that spanned 1,000 feet, followed by a 6-mile run to the base of Water Canyon. From there, the run slowed to a 5-mile hike up and across Canaan Mountain and down to the amphitheater, where the speed picked back up for 9 miles to the finish line.
Darlene Stubbs, an organizer for the race and director of the Short Creek Running Club, told St. George News that because they didn’t have a lot of time to advertise for the event, they were expecting maybe 10 to 15 people.
“We were very surprised when we had 47 people sign up. All 47 showed up and completed the race,” she said. “We had eight females and 38 males. We had people from Arizona, Utah, North Dakota, Idaho and Washington.”
And there was also Jackson, a 4-year-old Labrador-golden retriever mix that completed the race, including the swimming portion. Stubbs said Jackson is a regular competitor in the community. He has participated in all races that the Short Creek Running Club has hosted and usually wins a medal for his speed. He “competed” Oct. 10 with his owner, Jeremiah Barlow.
Stubbs said there were no injuries at the event that prevented anyone from completing the race. However, while the trail on the mountain was marked fairly well, she said quite a few people got lost for a short while and ended up going a little farther distance, but “they were happy too.”
“Every person that crossed that finish line just felt so fulfilled and happy,” she said.
One of the main sponsors for the event was Travis Jessop, who paid the $50 fee for any competitor who wanted to race but couldn’t afford it.
“That made our numbers double or triple,” she said. “He wanted to be here but couldn’t and wanted to show his support. His heart was in it.”
The race was the genesis of Marty Jessop and Marvin Ray. The two came up with the idea for the cause, in which all participants chose a veteran and competed in honor of them, and money raised from the event is being put toward building a veteran’s memorial at Cottonwood Park in Colorado City.
Marty Jessop, who also completed the race and came in second place, told St. George News that it was “the best day of my life.”
Jessop said he grew up in the area and used to run the route in preparation for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training – more commonly known as “BUD/S”
“I used to run this route a lot, trying to get conditioned and get my body ready,” he said. “It’s an ideal training location for something like that because you’ve got soft sand, hills and rocks and high elevation.”
After he left for training, every time he returned home he would come to the trail and run the route with his brother – not the whole route but a good portion of it. After a few times of running the route, he said he and his brother started talking about turning the route into a race.
“I would’ve loved to have a race like this when I was getting ready for BUD/S,” he said.
After the idea hatched, he went to Stubbs for help in putting the race together.
Jessop said they decided to run for veterans because for many years, Short Creek had been a community that loved and respected veterans. However, he said, “for about 20 years, we went through a period where they (veterans) became really despised and hated almost.”
Because of this, there is no memorial for veterans in the community. For the last five years, there has been a significant interest, but they haven’t had the funding, which is how the brothers married the idea of the race with the cause.
“We thought we could have everyone run in honor of a vet from Southern Utah,” he said.
The most difficult part of the course, he said, was climbing out onto Canaan Mountain, which is an approximately 1500-foot elevation gain in 1 1/2 miles.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of everyone who did that race,” he said. “There are so many people that have been so broken for so long from here – they’re living all over the United States – but they have been longing for and wanting something to make them dig deep.”
Stubbs said they are planning to make this an annual event and are planning to host the next race again in October 2021. All races in Short Creek are posted on the Short Creek Running Club Facebook page.
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.