FEATURE - "Boston beckons Honeyville runner - again"

HONEYVILLE - By Ellen Cook, Headliner Media Specialist, October 7, 2021


Jeff Bullard has a love/hate relationship with running. Oh, he is okay with running errands, running down the block or even running to the store. It’s thinking about tackling mile after mile of shoe striking asphalt over and over again that gets to him.


“I don’t like running,” he admits.


What this Honeyville man does enjoy is the feeling of accomplishment when he completes one of those hated long-distance endurance contests.


“It is truly the best I feel all day. I love what it does for me,” he added.


Bullard will likely have that “feel good” sensation next week as he travels to Massachusetts to compete in the famous Boston Marathon on Monday, October 11.


This is the second time this runner has headed to “Beantown” to compete and his third year of qualifying for the prestigious event. Pretty amazing credentials when he lets you know he has only been in the running game for a mere five years.


He still recalls what got him out of his chair and onto the marathon trail.


It was 2017. Bullard’s sister-in-law, who works with the Ragnar endurance races (teams of runners traveling 150 miles), had in the past repeatedly ask him and his wife, Alicia, to be on a team. His answer each time, “I hate running.”


That year, however, something changed.


“Honestly, I was at a point in my life when I decided I need to do things that were uncomfortable,” Bullard said. “This scared the crap out of me. So, I said, ‘Okay, we will do it.’”


The next question out of his mouth was “How far do I have to run?” The answer was a measly seven miles. His response, “I’ve never run that far in my life!”


But he had accepted the challenge and decided to do what he had to do to succeed. In the five months he had to prepare, Bullard said he dedicated himself to his training. He lost 40 pounds. He built up his endurance. He ran the race, and he was hooked.


“It was one of the most fun things I have ever done!” he said.


With that first structured run under his belt, he went back home.


“I was depressed that weekend,” he remembered. “I was in limbo. I kept thinking about what I would do now.”

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Jeff Bullard of Honeyville poses with five of his six children following a marathon run.

He signed up that week for the Bear Lake half marathon, 13.1 miles. “That gave me motivation to keep training,” Bullard said.


Even before he was at the starting line for that race, Bullard got brave and put his name in for the Deseret News Marathon slated for July 24. He felt like he was ready for that 26.2 miles. His thinking changed, however, when he crossed the half marathon finish line.


“I was scared,” he said. “When I was done, I remember thinking how could I ever do another 13.1 miles.”


Bullard said his motivation to keep training, to keep running, to keep enduring was actually his fear of going back to what he was.


“It is kind of like a fish swimming upstream,” he reasoned. “The minute he relaxes, he just drifts backwards. I was afraid of what would become of me if I went back to being my lazy self. All the work I had done to that point would have been gone.”

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Bullard competing at the Deseret News Marathon.

So, he continued his regimented schedule – an 18-week training plan to build up his speed. As he did so, he said a wild idea came to him to run fast enough in qualify for Boston, which meant running the 26.2 miles in 3 hours and ten minutes or less. He ran St. George in 3.01.38. He was in.


In 2019 he was on a plane heading to the granddaddy of marathons to compete. It was only his sixth race of that length.


Initially he was worried as the Boston run is a difficult layout to qualify on because of its rolling landscape and the dreaded Heartbreak Hill at mile 20. It was nothing like the good canyon courses he was use to in Utah.

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Bullard get his placement number - 5956. His goal was to finish lower than that number. He finished in the 3,000s.

His goal that first go-round was to finish better that what he was ranked at coming in. With 30,000 runners vying for space on the course, Bullard was in the mix in the 5,000s. He finished somewhere in the 3,000s. He also had a remarkable time of 3.03.


“I still can’t believe I pulled that off,” he said. “Apparently it is a hard thing to do.”

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The first medal Bullard received in Boston was in 2019. His second one for 2020 was mailed to him. This year marks the 125th running in Boston. He is hoping for a third medal.

That amazing time also qualified him for the 2020 race, which, because of COVID-19, was all but canceled. It became a GPS marathon, with qualified runners racing on set tracks nearer their homes. Bullard took on the Huntsville run and finished in 3.02, another qualifying time. The Boston group mailed him his medal.


COVID-19 also caused the 2021 race to be moved from its April time slot to this October. And Bullard is excited to be back running those rolling hills again and hearing the deafening cheers from the thousands that line the entire length of the crowded route.


“The first time I told everyone I was just doing it for the experience,” he laughed. “For some reason I guess I got lost in the moment. This time I am really going to try and run it for fun. I will just see what my body will let me do that day.”


An interesting side note to the race is that Bullard ran an unscheduled marathon just two weeks ago in Huntsville. He planned to use it as a long training run, nothing more. True to form, his time qualified him for the 2022 Boston event. And he intends to be there.


Bullard says he has logged in over 8,000 miles since he began this journey in 2017 and has another 750 miles totaled in his current 18-week training schedule.


Not bad for a man who will still tell you, “I hate running, but I love it!”

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Bullard with his wife Alicia, right, and daughter, Taylee.

A happy finish to a long run. All photos are Courtesy Photos