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The City Journals

Running becomes South Jordan family’s common trait

Oct 28, 2016 01:16PM ● By Billy Swartzfager

South Jordan’s Simmons family after the St. George Marathon (Anne Simmons/Resident)

By Billy Swartzfager | [email protected]

South Jordan, Utah - This year marked the 40th anniversary of the St. George Marathon, a special race for South Jordan resident and mother Anne Simmons, who ran the marathon for the fifth time— this year with her daughters and other members of her family.

In 1982, when Simmons was 9, she ran the St. George Marathon for the first time after training with her father, an avid runner. In 2013, Simmons’ oldest daughter, Ellie, who was 9 at the time, wanted to run the marathon just like her mother had. This year, Simmons’ younger daughter, Ava, also wanted to take part in what has become somewhat of a family tradition. 

“This year, we had three generations running the marathon,” Anne Simmons said.

She, her daughters and her mother-in-law all participated in the race. They were joined by Simmons’ sister and brother-in-law as well. 

The Simmons family began training for the event months ago, focusing on many different challenges a runner will certainly face while attempting to cover the 26.2 miles constituting a marathon. Anne Simmons says they spent an awful lot of time on their mental stamina, a huge component in distance running, particularly for children. 

“We spent a lot of time on being positive, on staying positive,” Anne Simmons said, “We had a mental strategy, a plan.”

The group used many different practices to stay mentally tough during the race, and all of the prep races leading to St. George. They focused on what they called “The Flip.” 

“When our feet hurt, instead of saying our feet hurt, we would say our feet feel great and just turn negative comments positive,” Anne Simmons said. 

The Simmons family also worked on keeping any negative thoughts to themselves, realizing that being positive helps others remain that way as well. According to Anne Simmons, the experience was a perfect one to teach her daughters valuable life lessons. On top of being able to stay positive during trying times, her children also learned the value of eating healthily, getting good rest and being able to stick to a schedule, one that most often requires one to rise early in the day.

“It was great for them to have this opportunity to do something big, and for me to be able to support them,” she said.

The Simmons girls fared well in this year’s St. George Marathon. Twelve-year-old Ellie was the winner in the 14-and-under division, while Ava, 10, placed fourth, the same place her mother took back in 1982. Both girls finished before their mother, who began to have knee pain near the final stretch of the race. Anne Simmons was upset and struggling when she looked up and saw her father, the person who turned her on to running and supported her when she was young, cheering her on about a mile before the finish line.

In 1982, her father was involved in a motorcycle accident that prevented him from running alongside her. She remembers being scared and even cried while running that first time alone, but found inner strength to finish. This year was similar, finding just enough gas to complete a daunting endeavor, and it was only fitting that her father be the one to give her the push she needed.

“When I looked up to see him there, I was emotionally invigorated, almost overwhelmed,” she said.

Anne Simmons, who is also a running coach for South Jordan’s Kids Run Utah, has felt the benefits running can provide and has seen it in the kids she coaches as well as her own daughters. She said extremely proud of what they all accomplished together, so proud her heart was nearly bursting.  

“I want them all to know that they can do hard things,” she said, “That is the Simmons’ motto, ‘We can do hard things.’”