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20,000 Miles

Jul 06, 2016 10:58AM ● By Tori La Rue

Helen Bearinger runs in the SoJo Gold Rush 5K on March 19. At 71 years old, Bearinger continues to participate in every race in the SoJo Race Series. – Helen Bearinger

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

Within the last 40 years, Helen Bearinger has participated in about 50 races and run more than 20,000 miles.

At 71 years old, the South Jordan resident runs three to six miles four times a week, hikes once a week and participates in all seven races in South Jordan’s race series each year.

“When you get to my age, you’ve got to move it or you’re going to lose it,” Bearinger said. “I like running because it strengthens your bones, gets your endorphins going, and also it is time with my friends. I think it is very critical to find something to get active, but to make sure you love doing it, too.”

Bearinger’s love for running came when she was in her early 30s. Her sister started running short distances and invited Bearinger to join her on a jog. Bearinger was hooked after the first block, she said, and began to pursue running as a hobby and a sport.

She began running only a few miles at a time but worked her way up to running a marathon by the time she reached her late 30s. At the time, Bearinger was raising children and working a full-time job, but she said with a defined schedule, she was able to incrementally increase her distance until she felt prepared for the 26.2-mile race.

Although Bearinger considers marathons as a “one-and-done” type of race, she said she continues to participate in races because they motivate her to try harder and stay focused during her day to day runs.

Bearinger has been a South Jordan resident for more than 30 years, and she said she frequently finds herself training for races on South Jordan’s segment of the Jordan River Parkway. Her favorite races are those within the SoJo Race Series, which includes races from a 2.5-mile run to a half-marathon.

“It’s probably just my South Jordan pride,” she said. “But I love the staff that puts the races together. I’ve really gotten to know them, and they just put on a fantastic race.”

Her favorite South Jordan race is the College Rivalry half marathon, where participants are given either a red or a blue shirt depending on their college allegiance. During this annual race Bearringer sports a red shirt, and enjoys seeing the competition that comes between the red and the blue racers.

Her favorite races outside of South Jordan include the 12K Bloomsday race in her hometown of Spokane, Washington, and the Red Rock Relay in Moab, she said.

Bearinger’s speed has changed over the years. She’s not as fast as she once was, but she said she tries not to let that keep her down.

“I’m slow. I run 11-minute miles, and there are lots of runners that are much faster than me, but I’m still chugging along,” she said. “It’s not about comparing yourself to others, though. You can only compare you to you.”

Bearinger said she continues to run because it allows her to get outdoors, think clearly, deal with stress and the hard times that come up in her life, and enjoy the beauty in the world around her.

“I’ve found that little niche that works for me,” she said. “It’s freeing. It really is.”