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North Utah County moms run this town

By Karissa Neely daily Herald - | Mar 29, 2017
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Members of the North Utah County Moms Run This Town group laugh together in Lehi after a run Saturday, March 25, 2017.

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Jackie Mortensen, center, speaks to members of the North Utah County Moms Run This Town on Saturday, March 25, 2017, in Lehi. Mortensen founded the local chapter of the running club.

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Members of the North Utah County Moms Run This Town running club gather after a run in Lehi on Saturday, March 25, 2017.

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Members of the North Utah County Moms Run This Town running club gather after a run in Lehi on Saturday, March 25, 2017.

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Members of the North Utah County Moms Run This Town running club pose for a group picture after a run in Lehi March 25, 2017.

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Founder of the North Utah County Moms Run This Town running group, Jackie Mortensen, center, finishes up a run with friends March 25, 2017 in Lehi.

If you see a group of women running through the streets of north Utah County, it might be because moms run this town.

The group, Moms Run This Town, or MRTT, is the Northern Utah County chapter of a national running club focusing on safety and fun for women who run. For Jackie Mortensen, who formed the Lehi chapter in February 2016, both of those goals are equally important.

Previously Mortensen had lived in Virginia, and joined a MRTT group there for safety. She loved the group so much, and when she and her husband and four children moved to Lehi, she was lonely for her running friends.

“Running with MRTT, it turned out to be a huge reason I loved living in the D.C. area. In those early mornings before the tourists came out, it was just us and those monuments,” Mortensen said.

Missing that unique camaraderie, and wanting to have a way to motivate herself to continue running, she started the local MRTT chapter. With it, she found her tribe again.

Mortensen and about 20 MRTT members braved the cold and rain early Saturday morning to run down from the top of Suncrest Drive to the Smith’s Marketplace in Lehi. A few women ran a 20-mile length, some a five-mile length, and some three miles. But they all finished with chocolate and laughter just before the rain really started to pour.

For Michelle Potter of Lehi, she was there because the group really does offer “safety in numbers.”

“I don’t have to run by myself,” added Angela Harris, also of Lehi.

For many ladies, the group also motivates them.

“The hard part is getting out. If I have a group to go with, I’ll go,” said Becky Bennion of Lehi.

All of the ladies there Saturday participate in the North Utah County Moms Run This Town Facebook group, which, though a closed group, is now 350 members strong.

“That’s surprising, because it only started with me and my sister,” Mortensen said.

She moderates the group’s Facebook page, and scrutinizes anyone asking to join — again, because “safety always is first,” she says. Belonging to the group means knowing where group runs will take place, getting nutrition and athletic tips, and being able to talk about running freely.

Tiffani Leavitt of Saratoga Springs says the Facebook group is invaluable, because it allows her “to talk about women things and running on Facebook, and not bore my other friends with my running posts.” The group laughed Saturday when she mentioned that, because of the many stories that have been posted — some of them dealing with the uncomfortableness of encountering stinging nettle, the sometimes necessary stops to pee in a bush on a long run, near accidents with cars, and even the scare of being chased by a bird.

But as Mortensen reminded them all jokingly, “What’s said on the run, stays on the run.”

Pam Burrus, a Georgia resident, started MRTT in 2010, as a way to be with other women who enjoyed running. There are now hundreds of chapters across the United States and Canada, with more expanding abroad. There is also a partner group, She Runs This Town, for women who aren’t mothers.

For Mortensen and her group, they like being a small part of something bigger, and making solid friendships along the way. The group encompasses elite runners all the down to beginners, and there seems to be at least one other person that runs the same pace as another group member. This helps those who feel they are too slow.

“I’ve learned everything about how to run, from these people,” said Lehi resident Felicia Marshall. “Like how to eat while running, which is still really weird.”

Mortensen has been pleasantly surprised that for such a large group of women, who are also somewhat competitive, there has been very little drama.

“As people come into the group, they bring different aspects to it, and it’s nice. And everyone is always building each other, encouraging each other,” she said.

The group holds regular weekday short runs and longer weekend runs, and participates in local races. For Mortensen, the group satisfied her initial loneliness in coming back to Utah. But she still misses one aspect of the D.C. group that she can’t quite get this local group to agree to.

“I really, really miss the donut runs. We’d go on a run and then meet at the end at a donut shop. I can’t seem to get the ladies behind that here,” she said with a laugh.

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