Asics running shoes helped Clayton Young run a 2:16 marathon in Chicago.
But it wasn't pretty (more about that in just a sec.)
He racked up a long list of wins and PRs as a runner for Brigham Young University and then signed with Asics as a pro runner.
Want to know how to go from running laps in the 5th grade to becoming a sponsored athlete and Olympic hopeful?
This is Clayton Young's story...
"It's kind of funny now," says Asics running professional athlete Clayton Young. "My debut marathon didn't go as planned."
I know what you're thinking: A 2:16 marathon PR, how bad could it be?
Here's what happened...
After running the USA Track and Field Half Marathon Championships in 1:01:18 and finishing fourth overall, Clayton entered the Chicago Marathon.
The men's competition included experienced marathoners like:
"I was kind of injured going into the race," says Clayton. "So I only spent about 3 to 4 weeks actually running leading up to the race."
"At that point, I knew I was going to race for the experience. But I still wasn't sure how it was going to turn out."
On your mark...get set...go!
Clayton left the starting line of the Chicago Marathon with the chase pack of about 15 runners.
But it didn't take long for those 15 runners to dwindle down to three.
"It was me, Colin Mickow and Nico Montanez," says Clayton.
"The three of us were chasing the lead group. At some point, someone told us we were in 6th, 7th, and 8th place. And I thought, 'It's my marathon debut. This is awesome.'"
They started ticking off the miles headed towards the 26.2-mile finish line.
And he felt like everything was dialed in...
But running around a 5-minute mile pace in Chicago's hot and humid conditions started to take a toll.
If he could just hang on a few more miles, Clayton could grab a top 10 finish.
"Colin Mickow made a move, and we dropped Nico," says Clayton. "I was in 7th place with just two miles to go. We were on pace for a 2:12 or maybe 2:13 finish."
And then it happened...
"The wheels started to fall off for me around mile 24," says Clayton.
He started cramping...bad. Nico Montanez rallied from behind and passed him.
"With just 1,000 meters to go, it was like someone turned on a light switch," says Clayton.
"With about 800 meters to go and the finish line in sight, I hit the ground and collapsed," says Clayton.
Race medics rushed on to the course to assist him, but he refused their aid.
"Don't touch me," Clayton said. "I could be disqualified."
Somehow, he managed to get to his feet.
"I ran as hard as I could," says Clayton. "I'm sure I looked like a zombie, because my muscles weren't firing right."
But it wasn't enough. Just 400 meters from the finish line, he collapsed again.
"I got up, and did another zombie shuffle to the end," says Clayton. "I crossed the finish line in 2:16:07 in 13th place and collapsed."
That's not how Clayton, a decorated runner from Brigham Young University and NCAA champion expected his debut marathon to go as an Asics running pro.
The good news: The 2022 Chicago Marathon is just a few weeks away.
"I'm hoping to break 2:10 this year," says Clayton.
If you've seen any superhero movies or read the old-school comic books, you probably know every superhero has an origin story.
You know...some defining moment, life experience or circumstance that defines their future.
Step into the Wayback Machine a couple decades to find out how Clayton discovered running...
"When I was in the fifth grade, my school had something called the Mileage Club Program," says Clayton.
"Every Friday, during lunch recess, you could go out and run laps around the soccer field."
"My best friend was in the opposing class," says Clayton. "We got really competitive, and so did both classes."
How did it turn out?
Clayton ran 100 miles during lunch recess that year.
"I found out I was really good at running," says Clayton. "That's when running really started catching fire for me."
He ran cross country and track. He played soccer and basketball. He competed for top ranked-high schools in Washington and Utah.
Clayton dominated running events for BYU, winning the NCAA 10K National Championship his senior year, and taking 6th in the 5K.
"That brought a lot of attention to me," says Clayton. "I got an agent and started reaching out to several different companies."
But there was a catch if a sponsor wanted to sign him...
Instead of moving away to a training facility, he didn't want to leave Utah.
"I told my agent I have a pretty good setup in Utah working with Coach Ed Eyestone at BYU," says Clayton. "He's a two-time Olympic marathoner. And he's coached a lot of successful runners."
"Plus, I can train with the BYU team. I have access to the athletic facilities. My family is here. And at the time I was in the middle of a master's degree program in mechanical engineering."
Would that be too big of a request to get a bite from a sponsor?
"Basically, I was looking for a sponsorship deal that would allow me to stay in Utah," says Clayton.
At the time a lot of elite training programs required moving away, like:
"My agent went to bat for me at several different companies, and Asics made an offer," says Clayton.
"They were totally supportive to let me stick with training at BYU with the system I have set up. I signed a two-and-a-half year deal with them with the option to renew at the end of 2022."
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