9th and 9th whale statue now home to an endurance challenge: ‘the whaleathon’

Nov 1, 2023, 6:27 PM | Updated: Nov 2, 2023, 9:34 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Call it fanaticism, endurance, or maybe just crazy, but these Utah runners have found a new way to challenge their endurance.

Local runners are starting to run marathons around the famous whale art installation at 900 South, 900 East.

A group of marathon runners were training for the Salt Lake City marathon when they got an idea.

“We jokingly ran 20 laps around the whale. During that, we thought it was funny to say, ‘oh it would be cool to run a marathon around this,'” runner Evan Service said.

Well Wyn Barnett turned that joke into a reality and became the official whaleathon founder.

“630 laps to a marathon,” Barnett said. “Your ankles and hips and knees start to take a beating which is why we switch directions every 30 minutes.”

Running in a small roundabout did not prove simple. Instead of a long straightaway, you’re going in circles at an angle. Barnett explained that your legs don’t really have a break because you’re either on the angle, either running uphill or running downhill.

“When we were at 400 laps knowing that we still had another 200 plus to go I was like, ‘oh, we’re in it. We hit the slump,'” Barnett said.

But Barnett pushed through and on Oct. 21, he finished the first-ever whaleathon.

Just shy of four hours,” he said. “The whale slowed me down a little bit.”

The new racetrack around the whale has gained the attention of other runners and locals.

Friends Jackson Bradshaw and Evan Service also ran the whaleathon.

Now they hope to use the Whaleathon to bring attention to the needs of water for the Great Salt Lake.

“The whale needs water and so does the Great Salt Lake,” Barnett said.

“The Great Salt Lake is something we need to protect and be mindful. We live in the desert,” Bradshaw said. “It wasn’t really the goal coming into it, we wanted to just do something absurd, but we knew that we might capture some attention, so trying to get some people aware of how important the Great Salt Lake is is really important.”

Eight other strangers have run the race. Anyone can run the whaleathon. All you have to do is run 26.2 miles around it in whatever way you want and send a picture of your tracking app to prove it.

“I’ll definitely do another marathon but none will be quite as memorable as this one,” Bradshaw said.

“It’s forever changed how I think about this intersection,” Barnett said. “I’ll never come through here and not think about the whaleathon.”

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9th and 9th whale statue now home to an endurance challenge: ‘the whaleathon’