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Magna invests its small-town charm into its annual 4th of July 5K race

Cuauhtemoc Fitiao, Aleksandr Krikov and Christopher Hercules placed first, second and third at the Magna 4th of July 5K, July 4, 2024.
Tilda Wilson
/
KUER
Cuauhtemoc Fitiao, Aleksandr Krikov and Christopher Hercules placed first, second and third at the Magna 4th of July 5K, July 4, 2024.

Every year Joe Hastings runs the Magna 4th of July 5K dressed head to toe in the stars and stripes. To him, it’s simple.

“I love running, and I love America.”

Hastings grew up in Magna and has been running for as long as he can remember. Two of his uncles used to run this race when it first got started in the 80s. It was a pretty small event for a while but “has gotten really, really popular within the last six, seven, years. Across the whole valley, across the whole state,” he said

Popular, and fast.

Cuauhtemoc Fitiao finished first for the fourth year in a row with a time of 14 minutes, 53 seconds. His friends Aleksandr Krikov and Christopher Hercules crossed the finish line after him. All wore black jerseys emblazoned with the initials M.R.C. That stands for Magna Run Club, a group they started together two and a half weeks before the race.

“We were on a recovery run and we just started talking like ‘I think there's a lot of guys and gals out here in Magna that want to run for something,’” explained Krikov. “And we just thought it would be a fun idea, and it's kind of blowing up lately, so that's awesome.”

Joe Hastings laces up his American flag running shoes before the start of the Magna 4th of July 5K on July 4, 2024.
Tilda Wilson
/
KUER
Joe Hastings laces up his American flag running shoes before the start of the Magna 4th of July 5K on July 4, 2024.

As a group, they track their mileage on the running app Strava. They’ve also decided on a mascot: the Sea Dogs. They chose it because most of the club members went to Cyprus High School, home of the Pirates.

“We’re always a Pirate now a Sea Dog,” said Krikov.

As more people finished the morning race, organizer Jennifer Masse was busy handing out medals. She had a long day ahead of her. Magna’s Fourth of July celebration has been going on for more than a century, and it’s an all-day affair.

“We start with the flag ceremony to the 5K to the breakfast by the Knights of Columbus to the parade at noon every single year,” she explained. “And then we have entertainment and fireworks in the park in the evening.”

Masse has lived in Magna for 25 years. Her children and grandchildren come to the event every year. It’s a lot of work, but worth it to bring the community together. She also just loves “being able to support people.”

Bonnie Pilling and Radele Christensen got to Magna’s Fourth of July parade four hours early to get good seats.
Tilda Wilson
/
KUER
Bonnie Pilling and Radele Christensen got to Magna’s Fourth of July parade four hours early to get good seats.

Even though it meant waiting for hours in the sun, Bonnie Pilling and Radele Christensen had already secured their spot for the parade. They said they were in place at 8 a.m., about the time the last runner crossed the finish line for the 5K.

“If you don’t save your spot you’re not gonna get one,” Christensen explained.

They’ve lived here for seven and nine years respectively, and never miss the parade. Both were excited to see all the old cars that people fix up just to show in the parade. To Christensen, events like this make Magna feel “friendlier and homier.”

The celebration may be old and popular, but Pilling said it’s still “a small town and you’re just not fighting the [crowds] like you are in other, bigger cities.”

Corrected: July 5, 2024 at 4:05 PM MDT
This story was updated to correct which member of Joe Hasting’s family used to run the Magna 5K. Two of his uncles began the tradition. His Dad was serving in the U.S. military at the time.
Tilda is KUER’s growth, wealth and poverty reporter in the Central Utah bureau based out of Provo.
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