Former Carbon Dino cross country athlete to participate in torch run
Melanie Johnson has had a running dream throughout much of her life.
Melanie has been running since girlhood and now, after a long process of nominations and waiting, she will participate in the biggest race every put on in the United States. She is going to be a support runner for the 2002 Olympic Torch run.
While a bit disappointed in not actually being named to carry the torch, Melanie will be along side someone else who is in the blue and white Winter Olympics game uniform.
And if the person who is carrying the torch for the designated part of the race cannot do it for some reason or cannot finish, Melanie will step in to complete the segment of the run.
Johnson, a pharmacy student at the University of Utah, is well known to many sports fans in Carbon County.
In 1998, she placed third at the Utah high school state cross country championships for girls. The ranking was one of the highest finishes any Lady Dino has ever attained at the state contest.
After high school, Melanie went to Utah Valley State College and ran track for the Wolverines while working on her associate's degree.
At UVSC, she was an academic all-American in track.
Now, Johnson is in the running for a professional doctorate of pharmacy that will take four years to complete.
But running in the 2002 Olympic race is dominating her mind during the 2001 holiday season.
As a support runner, officially termed the "Guardian of the Flame," Melanie gets the full Olympic regalia.
The Olympic regalia will include the official pants, a jacket, hat and gloves as well as a "long T-shirt."
"The only thing they don't supply is the shoes," Johnson recently told the Sun Advocate. "I am very excited about doing this."
Melanie will be "guarding" the torch in a part of the journey somewhere close to Salt Lake City, not long before the Olympics symbol enters the Rice-Eccles Stadium for its final lap.
There were 200,000 nominees for the torch run and only 11,000 candidates got the chance to carry it. And only about that same number got to be running along side the torch bearers.
Johnson was nominated by her mother, Tawna Magnuson, by her husband, Dallas, and by innumerable friends. It was a big undertaking, but it paid off.
The path Johnson will take that day will only be for two-tenths of a mile, but it will provide her with a memory for a lifetime.
And while Melanie is traveling down that path with photographers and television cameras in her face, she will be doing what she loves.
Running once again.