Claude Williams will be 68 next month. He was recognized for running the Freedom Run in Hyrum for 30 years last week. For the past 10 years, he has run the 15K carrying an American flag. The flag is a tribute to his son-in-law, Michael Alleman, who lost his life in Iraq in 2009.
Alleman was a 30-year-old teacher at Nibley Elementary School when he joined the US Army. He was active duty and was stationed in Alaska. He left for basic training in 2008, and died in 2009. He had been a soldier for 13 months. He left his wife Amy and two sons, Kai and Kennet.
Williams’ extended family came to the Freedom Run this year to watch him run from the hydro power plant in Blacksmith Fork Canyon to the Hyrum City Square. The family printed sky blue t-shirts with “Blacksmith Fork Freedom Run 30 years.” On the back was Claude’s favorite sayings: Hard things take time, impossible things take a little longer.
The Freedom Run has turned into a family affair. Amy and her two boys run it, too. This year, Claude’s twin sister, Claudia, joined the family for the 9.5 mile run.
“My father puts in 400 to 500 miles per summer,” she said. “Before he goes to work he wakes up early and runs with the Mountain Crest Cross Country team.”
Isaac Reeder, the Mountain Crest Cross Country coach, said Williams is a like the rock of their program.
“He has been there every morning and is enthusiastic and excited to be there,” Reeder said. “He runs three miles before we get started.”
The kids all love him, he always encourages them and jokes with them,” he said.
“I think he started in the mid to early ’90s,” he said. “He has influenced generations.”
Amy Alleman remembers her father riding his bike along the route, directing traffic when she was on the cross country team.
Alleman has been running marathons annually since her husband died.
“I ran my first marathon on Sept. 20, 2009, the day Michael was supposed to come home,” she said. “I’ve been running a marathon every year since.”
“My dad and I have been running marathons together since 2014,” Alleman said.
“It’s turned into a fun daddy-daughter thing.”
She would tell him to go on and leave her and he would tell her he was not running for a time, he was doing it to be there with her.
She said running a marathon helps with healing. She feels like there is an analogy with distant running and life.
“Life is not a sprint, it’s all about endurance,” she said. “When I’m done I say to myself, ’I just did something really hard, but it feels so good when I’m finished.’”
Williams and his wife Ranea have five children.