Asked how he felt after finishing the Pioneer Day Deseret Morning News Marathon for the 35th time, 70-year-old Darryl Beardall said it was "just another race." For him, maybe it is. He has missed only three since the popular 24th of July 26.2-mile event began in 1970.
And it's not a particularly demanding race for a man who has run in events as long as 100 miles. In fact, according to his own calculations, he is closing in on running a total of 300,000 miles in his life, starting seriously when he began high school.
The high priests group secretary in the Brush Creek Ward, Santa Rosa California Stake, Brother Beardall fully expects his feet to carry him to the mileage milestone within the next year and gives a lot of credit to his adherence to the Word of Wisdom.
He said the Lord's revelation on health, as recorded in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants, has been his motto since he began running competitively at Santa Rosa High School. Abstaining from harmful substances such as alcohol and tobacco has kept him free from serious injuries and other circumstances which would knock him off his feet, he believes.
A practical, upbeat man, Brother Beardall loves to talk about the run-around that has been his life for more than six decades.
Born to LDS parents, Ray and Ila Clayson Beard, in Springville, Utah, he spent his early years there and in Salt Lake City. Just before he began high school, a job change by his father took the family to northern California where he has lived ever since.
As a freshman in high school, he found that all P.E. students had to run around the perimeter of the school, about three-quarters of a mile, at the beginning of each class. At the end of the year, the top three runners in each class met to race for the school championship. After he won that competition, the coach asked him to come out for track. "I said, 'What's track?"' Brother Beardall explained.
He didn't join up right away because he had no way home after school except on the school bus. But the next year when the coach told him and his younger brother, Alan, "We need you!" his father managed to buy a second car so their mother could pick up the boys after track practice. Looking back, Brother Beardall said it never dawned on him and his brother that they lived only nine miles from the school and could have run home.
In track tryouts, Brother Beardall said the coach told him to run around the track until he got tired. He said he finished 48 laps before quitting. He wasn't tired then, he said, but due to lack of proper training his muscles got really sore the following days. Looking for his track event, he didn't do well in the shorter races, but was impressive in the mile the longest race run in high schools during that era.
Cross country turned out to be a better race for him at 1.9 miles. He recalls the time the high school principal called him and his brother into his office to scold them for running the three miles home from school. (The family had moved closer by that time.) The principal told them that cross country races were 1.9 miles long because if a person ran two miles or more they'd likely have a heart attack. Brother Beardall laughed about that and said he and Alan continued to run home through back streets and never had heart attacks. In fact, they were dubbed by people in their neighborhood, "The Running Antelopes of Montecito Heights."
After high school, he ran at the local community college for a while, and even got a track scholarship at BYU.
But his lifelong endeavor has been the longer, more demanding races that he began discovering in the summers during high school. One was the San Francisco Cross City Race from the city's Bay side to the Pacific Ocean side. He also ran the Statuto Run, eight miles through San Francisco, 45 times before giving it up five years ago.
In June, he ran California's Dipsea Race for the 51st time; twice he was the winner. It is a handicapped race from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach in Marin County north of the Golden Gate Bridge, 7.1 miles through formidably rugged Mount Tamalpais State Park.
And on it goes for the retired railroad worker. He said he competes 40 or 50 times a year.
In this year's field of more than 750 marathoners, he finished 441st among men. His time of 4 hours, 52 minutes, was quite a bit slower than his winning time of 2:44 in 1972. His time has slipped as he has aged 35 years, but not his enthusiasm and love for running. It seems keeping the Word of Wisdom has worked for him. At the finish line, he was sprouting beads of sweat, but didn't seem to be breathing very hard and easily carried on a conversation. It appeared he could bus right back up to Big Mountain at the top of Emigration Canyon and run the course again.
E-mail: [email protected]