The Nike Oregon Project, the Brooks-Hanson Original Distance Project and Zap Fitness are all training groups that have paved the renaissance of long-distance running in America. Rather than training individually, many of the best runners have chosen to unite with their competiors.
That movement has made its way to the Rocky Mountains as the Ogden Crew has started to put itself on the map. Rather than sleeping in altitude tents and spending months training in Africa, these select runners work full-time jobs and train in the early hours of the day.
The self-coached members don’t just run together; they are training together for a chance to garner the qualifying standards for the 2016 Olympic trials. To qualify, one must either run a half marathon under one hour and five minutes or a marathon under two hours and 18 minutes.
Bryant Jensen, creator of the group, completed his eligibility as a runner for Weber State University in 2009. He said he knew he wanted to continue running, and instead of taking his talents to South Beach, he took to the road.
Jensen won all five of the marathons he entered last year, including the St. George Marathon last fall. His time of two hours, 15 minutes and 56 seconds set a new course record and put him in elite company.
“I guess the crew’s history goes back a ways,” Jensen said. “I have known most of those guys for a long time. The crew helps out a lot. There is a competitive drive there between us. The support that we get from each other is great. It’s fun to hit the pavement with them, especially with all of the miles that you have to do to train for a marathon.”
Riley Cook, a cost analyst at Hill Air Force Base, took a break from running after completing his eligibility. But that break was short-lived. He still had a desire to achieve some goals he had set as a collegiate runner. He wanted to compete not only locally, but nationally.
After winning the Top of Utah Half Marathon last fall, Cook said, he felt confident a breakthrough was coming for him. That breakthrough came by way of the Phoenix Marathon this past March. Cook beat fellow Ogden Crew member Jason Holt, winning in 2:21:42, a personal best by more than two minutes.
“With the experience of each additional marathon, I have been able to find out what works for me,” Cook said. “It is so much easier to train when you have a group out there to be with. When you have other guys, especially on the longer workouts, they can push you to finish a workout that you might not if you are alone. ”
The Ogden Crew’s success hasn’t all been on the road. Brett Ferrier has taken his talents to the trails. The trails in Ogden have prepared Ferrier for the La Sportiva Mountain Cup, a compilation of the 10 best trail races in America.
After struggling in the first race of the season while battling a case of shingles, Ferrier took first place in the Hillbilly Half Marathon in Olympia, Wash. His winning time of 1:23:8 moved him up to second place in the standings.
“This year I put my focus on trail racing and the Mountain Cup in particular,” Ferrier said. “But the group has helped me because everyone is running personal bests, and just seeing that helps a lot. With the crew it gives us a chance to see what is working for other people, and I can incorporate that into my training.”
Some of the Ogden Crew members will run in the Boston Marathon this April.
More information on the Ogden Crew is available on the group’s Twitter page, @OgdenCrew.