SLAM Conference Luck of the Irish 5k (Orem, Utah) 2014 Recap

by Daniel Johnston

After making an errant turn at one race and encountering a hilly and extremely windy course two weeks later, I was determined to finally have success and signed up for my next race only one week later. It turned out to be just what I was looking for!

The SLAM Luck of the Irish 5k was held at UVU (Utah Valley University). Although it was the end of March, it was still pretty cold. Luckily they had nice stoves where they were cooking pancakes that kept us somewhat warm. Certainly it was nothing as bad as the brutal wind of the previous week!

Before the race I didn’t want to carry my phone with me (because of the extra weight) and left it by the registration table. I asked if I could put my bag there, but didn’t communicate my phone was in it. Unfortunately, that led to problems after the race (to be solved by the help of great people!), but more on that later.

The race itself was on a track. Not my favorite kind of race, but whatever. The confusing part was for the finish we were supposed to run down the middle of the track. We were supposed to turn on the sixth and a half lap. I was really worried I would turn at the wrong time and screw everything up. But I didn’t 🙂

As soon as the race started I went out fast. I had read in racing strategy books that it is best to wait behind the shoulder of the leader and pass him at the end. But I figured I would blow everyone away, so I was trying to get my fastest possible time. I think there were maybe a hundred or so other people.

It was annoying having to dodge people throughout the laps, but it wasn’t that bad. There were a few people trying to trail me, one in particular who I was aware of. At one point in the third lap, he gained a slight lead for a little while. But I stayed right with him and eventually tired. I later found out he was a high school sprinter. He confessed he had trouble keeping up with me over the longer distance.

That was the only lead change during the race. On the last lap I ran down the middle and crossed the finish line. My first race win ever!

I finished in 20:45 this time. I was a little disappointed as I was hoping to finish in under 20, but I figured I probably would have if there had been more competition. Plus it had been difficult on the track having to run around everybody.

It felt so great to finally win a race! It was awesome. I chatted with the people who came in behind me, most of whom were high school sprinters either just getting back into running or just getting into longer distance running. We actually had to run through again for the picture because the photographer figured nobody would finish that fast and he wasn’t ready!

I went back over to the registration table to reclaim my phone after the race, but alas it was missing! This was not good. There was no way I was willing to go without my phone!

I asked some people who were running the table what they thought happened. They told me they had probably just given the bag away not knowing my phone it was in it. It was really completely my fault. Nevertheless, several people took it upon themselves to search bags, and the announcers asked everybody to look for the missing phone. Those amazing people prevailed, and a kid found the phone in his bag! Their kindness was unbelievable.

With that bullet dodged, it was time for the award ceremony; my first ever! They called me up and gave me a HUGE pot of gold.


This bag included a blanket, a free Gold’s gym membership, and a bunch of running store discounts. Most importantly it contained chocolate. A LOT. There literally must have been like 200 pieces in that thing. I ate a couple most days (and gave a bunch away) and there was still a ton left when I gave it my friend when I moved out of Utah more than three months later.

They also photographed me and a high school runner who had won first woman. It was pretty awkward because we didn’t know each other, but whatever. I’ve never seen any of these photos they made us take, though. I wish they would send them to me or something.

At this time I was training for a half marathon about a month and a half later. Although I didn’t feel terrible at all in this race, I was definitely struggling a bit and realized I would need to kick my training up a bit if I wanted to do well.

Overall, this was an awesome race and made me feel really good about myself. Although the track wasn’t my favorite, that’s okay. I was also reminded of the win everyday when I ate some more chocolate, so that was pretty cool 🙂 I’ll always remember this race as my running victory ever!!!


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