Boston Marathon qualifier race pacer. 1,822-day running streak. The list of accomplishments goes on for 53-year-old Tooele resident, Karrie Middaugh. But her passion for running started nearly two decades ago after she swore she would never run another marathon.
In 1986, Middaugh moved from Iowa to attend school at Brigham Young University. While there, her roommate’s brother talked her into signing up for the St. George Marathon, an event she knew little about
Middaugh and her roommate, Lori Phelps, didn’t train properly. They leisurely ran a few 5ks in preparation for the fall marathon and thought nothing of it. Crossing the finish line in over six hours in St. George that year, they finished almost dead last.
“I swore I would never run again,” Middaugh said.
Middaugh kept that commitment for years and didn’t hit the pavement again until 2009. Middaugh, after losing 104 pounds, had joined her weight loss group in a 5k run in Lake Point.
Middaugh walked the 5k and when they decided to do another one, she vowed that she would run the race.
“I ran the race and came in second place,” she said.
At this point, Middaugh was now maintaining her weight loss and no longer watched the numbers on the scale go down. A new satisfaction came instead from watching her running times get shorter.
“I am kind of competitive,” she said. “As I get older, there aren’t as many people in my age group, so it’s not as hard.”
Watching an episode of Biggest Loser helped motivate Middaugh to run another marathon.
“I never, ever wanted to do a marathon again,” she said. “But as I watched Biggest Loser, I thought, ‘If they can do this, I can do it again.’”
In 2011, she ran the Top of Utah marathon in Logan. She would consistently add marathons every year. In 2018, she ran nine.
One of her favorite running events has been the Pink Series in Park City. It is a group of races that are held to support women who have been affected by breast cancer. Middaugh has tried to make it a yearly tradition since 2010.
“My family has been really affected by cancer,” she said. “Luckily the women have all been able to catch it in time.”
Middaugh has become a fixture among the Tooele County running community. Weekly, she’ll post group runs on the Tooele Running Club Facebook page. Maria Howard, one of Middaugh’s running partners, knows first-hand the positive influence Middaugh has had on others.
“Karrie is always finding ways to support her friends,” Howard said. “She has her own aspirations, but she takes the time to help us first.
“Karrie really showed me how big of a heart she has when her and fellow runner, Ron Cragun, helped me reach my first yearly mileage goal of 1,000 miles,” Howard said. “She ran every day with me that last week and had routes mapped out for every run.”
One of Howard’s favorite running memories is when a goat started running with them and didn’t turn around, even after two miles. They felt obligated to get the goat home, so they ran it back.
“Four miles with a goat!” Howard said. “Karrie and I had the goat run in between us to make sure she didn’t bite our bums!”
Middaugh started signing up to pace races as part of her running experiences. This is where a runner carries a sign that says the time that they will be finishing so other runners can hit their goal.
“I really do like helping other people get to their goals and pacing helps me do that,” Middaugh said. “I love meeting new people and seeing them reach their goals.”
In 2017, Middaugh was helping pace a race and didn’t feel well. The area had experienced a fire a few weeks before and still had lingering smoke. This was the first time Middaugh experienced feeling sick because of smoke and knew she would not finish on time.
Fortunately, Middaugh had another pacer with her who was able to run the given pace and finish in time. Middaugh came in five minutes after the scheduled time, but never threw up.
Luckily, Middaugh has escaped bad health and serious injuries. Only once has she felt too sick to even begin a race. Middaugh was at the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon and had gotten on the bus to drive up the canyon when she realized she was too sick to go on and got off the bus.
Even after feeling sick, she still managed to keep her running streak alive and complete her mile for the day. Her 1,822-day running streak started Nov. 28, 2013.
Most mornings, Middaugh accomplishes her mile before the sun is up and her goal of one mile a day has increased to three miles a day.
“I really like starting my day that way and having it done very first thing in the morning,” she said. “I like doing it before life can get in the way and I can have excuses.”
Middaugh will run in any weather but draws the line at lightning. If lightning is present, she’ll run in her house. Last year she was prepared to run in bad weather at the Boston Marathon. Middaugh dressed in five layers including a plastic bag.
The weather was horrible, with 32 mph headwinds, and she felt like quitting. Right after Heartbreak Hill, which refers to several ascents considered extremely difficult in the race, Middaugh was given a Dove chocolate. Although Middaugh avoids eating chocolate during races, she opened the wrapper.
“Inside the wrapper it had the saying, ‘Don’t quit until you’re proud,’” Middaugh said.
Although her legs were sore and cold, she decided not to quit and crossed the finish line.
Even going to her job downtown for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a hotel and meeting coordinator, Middaugh is known to run to catch the bus. Something she swore she would never do again, Middaugh now swears she’ll never give up.
“I see so many more places that are beautiful from my feet than I ever have from a car,” she said.