One of the Beehive State’s oldest marathons will have a new look a year from now.
That’s because the Top of Utah Marathon has been sold to Hspin Events, the company of Cache Gran Fondo founder Troy Oldham. The sale of the 20-year-old marathon was finalized late Monday night.
“We’ve (my family) thought about picking up another event and when we had the conversation that this (race) is a possibility, we were pretty excited about picking up an event that has been around as long as the Top of Utah, and that has that kind of tradition,” Oldham said.
Jeff McMurdie, who is a committee member for the Top of Utah Runners and one of the founders of the TOU Marathon, is excited that Oldham, a proven marketer, has acquired the race. Oldham founded the Cache Gran Fondo in 2011 and the popular cycling event had nearly 1,300 participants this summer.
McMurdie, Bob Henke, Todd Huge and Keith Grant-Davie founded the TOU Marathon in 1999. The 20th installment of the race will take place Saturday.
“You know, Bob (Henke) and I talked (Wednesday) morning, and it was a little bit about, ‘This is your baby,’” McMurdie said. “I mean, it’s 20 years, two decades. I have a 21-year-old son and that’s all he knows is that every September we’re doing marathon, and so we wanted to make sure that it was going to go in the right direction. And I think Troy’s going to take it in the right direction.
“There’s some sadness, too. I joked with Bob, I said, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do next September. Maybe I’ll be able to run something, run a race.’ But it’s good. It is good timing, good for Troy and good for the valley.”
Several other people and companies have approached the Top of Utah Runners about selling Cache Valley’s only full marathon for quite some time, but McMurdie said the organization wanted somebody with local ties and a proven track record.
Oldham is mulling over several ideas, including changing the course and coming up with a new name. The Green Canyon High School and Utah State University business teacher has also been in discussion with Gary Saxton, the director of the Logan Downtown Alliance with the hopes of creating “a fun atmosphere downtown.”
“Our hope is — and I talked to Jeff last night — I want to work with them (TOU club) and pull together an advisory board, like we did with the Gran Fondo and reprogram the event,” Oldham said. “And I don’t know if that means a new course, if that means a new way we start and finish the event, but to reprogram it as a way to kind of bring some (freshness) to it.”
Oldham asserted he plans on asking local runners for their input and stressed a marathon is “a great way to showcase Cache Valley,” especially during the fall.
“We are looking at everything, but that doesn’t mean we will change everything either,” he said. “We want to create a runner-focused event that highlights the valley and Logan City as the hub, while providing a new challenge for new, seasoned and longtime TOU Marathon runners. Tying downtown Logan into the event is an important feature we are considering.”
In its heyday, the TOU Marathon had approximately 2,500 runners. However, those numbers have declined substantially in recent years with the increased popularity of half marathons and the proliferation of lengthy races in Utah.
There are currently 24 marathons in the state, plus several ultramarathons. Only the St. George and Deseret News were around when the TOU and Park City marathons started in 1999.
Oldham is determined to bring those numbers up again.