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West Jordan Journal

Running shoes before ‘I do’s’

Aug 29, 2019 12:34PM ● By Alison Brimley

Bride-to-be Ari Romo crosses the finish line with her bachelorette party at the Linda Buttars Memorial Fun Run on July 6. (Sean Sweeney)

By Alison Brimley | [email protected]

The Linda Buttars Memorial Fun Run, which took place during West Jordan’s Western Stampede event, drew an impressive number of new participants this year. But perhaps none of these participants attracted as much attention as the group of women who crossed the finish line dressed not in running shorts or T-shirts but in white wedding gowns. 

These women participated in the race, held at Veteran’s Memorial Park, as part of a bachelorette party for bride-to-be Ari Romo, who lives near West Jordan. Normally, Romo says she’s not one who likes to attract a lot of attention. But she loves physical activity, and anyone who knows her also knows that she will do anything to get her friends to get active with her. So when she was trying to decide what to do for her bachelorette party, a standard activity like going out to dinner didn’t interest her. She came up with the idea of participating in a fun run, and a bit of internet research led her to the Linda Buttars Memorial Run. 

When she learned it was a memorial run, Romo decided she’d better learn a little about the woman the race honored: Linda Buttars, a West Jordan resident who supervised the crossing guard program for over 25 years and chaired the Healthy West Jordan Committee. Among many other volunteer efforts, Buttars helped to facilitate the West Jordan Red Run, which was renamed for Buttars after her death in 2006. Romo was impressed with Buttars’ engagement in the community. 

Romo, whose wedding took place July 11, didn’t wear her actual wedding dress to the fun run, though her sister did wear their mother’s wedding dress, which had been sitting in the closet for 23 years. Others scrounged up wedding dresses from wherever they could find them—friends, family and Deseret Industries.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this bridal party’s choice of activewear didn’t help them set any records in the race, but they weren’t aiming for a speedy finish. They mostly walked the 1-mile family fun run at a comfortable pace that allowed them to talk and enjoy the party. Many runners, though, did log impressive finish times, with several finishing in under 17 minutes. 

The overall winner was 17-year-old Jerin Palmer of West Jordan (also winner of the 15-and-over male division). Paula Morrison took the top spot in the 15-and-over female category, and 14-year-old Alex Maxifeld finished first in the under-15 category. Mayor Jim Riding was there to present awards at the ceremony that followed the race.

Overall, the fun run this year attracted many who had never participated before. Heather Everett, events coordinator for West Jordan, explained that whereas only 167 participants registered for 2018’s run, this year’s race involved nearly 500 runners. In an effort to boost participation this year, Everett said, they instituted a “healthy competition” between Copper Hills High School and West Jordan High School’s cross country teams. The schools competed in two categories, with a check for $500 awarded in each: which team could register more friends and family for the run, and which team averaged the best finishing time among the top five runners. In the end, both teams claimed one victory. West Jordan’s team registered more participants, and Copper Hills’ runners averaged the fastest time. 

So while brides and high schoolers may have stolen the show, the event overall emphasized families. Of those who registered for the race, 85% did so as part of a team, and 74 families total participated in the race, with an average team size of almost five runners. The event doesn’t aim to raise money but rather to promote physical activity and fun in the community, so registration fees are low—just $5 for an individual and $10 for a family, a fee that includes a T-shirt. Facilitators were happy with the participation they saw at this year’s race, which they called a “great success.”