Never having lived in Utah during the summer, there was only one time I attended an actual Pioneer Day celebration. I was 17 and it was in Oakley, Idaho. Population 668. Oakley may be a small town but on Pioneer day it grows, as I once heard a talk-radio host explain, into a “booming metropolis.” (For those of you who don’t know, Oakley is a suburb of Burley, which, as I understand it, is a suburb of Twin Falls, which is a suburb of Boise, which is a suburb of Oregon. Still with me?)

Somehow, I was signed up for the Oakley Idaho Pioneer Day Goose Creek Run-off. A 10k. A long way to run for someone who can’t make it to the end of the block without getting a side cramp.

But the pioneer spirit was alive and well in me so my cousins and I started the race. About a mile in, we were more like some of those lazy pioneers and slowed to a walk. About thirty minutes later, we came to a fork in the trail. If we turned left we would run the last four miles of the race. If we turned right, it was about 100 yards to the finish line.

This is when my cousins and I became like those sneaky pioneers who got to the Valley in half the time, and later that day, were surprised when the emcee at the bandstand asked for a round of applause for the winner of the under-18 division, from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Miss Rebecca McConkie.

I could hardly believe my luck. My first 10k and I was the winner!!!

Truth be told, I was so embarrassed that I walked away as fast as I could. My unassuming little sister accepted the prize in my stead (a pair of Asics running gloves) and then came looking for me so she could share the great news.

I still have that pair of running gloves.  I keep them on my nightstand as a constant reminder to myself that it’s not about what my body can do, it’s about what my brain can do. That it doesn’t matter how I finish, just that I finish.

Also, that I don’t have to do hard things. That the path of least resistance is the most rewarding path. That committing to something doesn’t mean I have to do something. That the cheaters who never win are lousy cheaters.

Happy Pioneer Day. 


My mother says that people don’t always know I’m kidding and that I need to tell the truth when I write on this blog. So here’s the truth: I did cheat, did win, was embarrassed. I do not, however, still have the gloves and I don’t think there were any lazy pioneers. At least not in my family.

Also, just for fun, after writing this I looked up the Goose Creek Run Off. They had the results from previous years listed. All this time I’ve said I was the winner—turns out I got second place.  I was 36-seconds behind the first place winner.  I was actually quite disappointed to know the truth. The third and fourth place winners were my second cousins, whom I owe an apology. And a pair of running gloves.