An overcast spring morning, a runner’s dream, played a large part in making the 38th annual Canyonlands Half Marathon and Five Mile Run an enjoyable experience for runners and spectators.
Thirty-eight runners from Moab competed in the Half Marathon. Sixty-nine Moab runners competed in the Five Mile Run.
Despite ideal conditions, no course records were broken. 3,189 runners completed the Half Marathon with an additional 824 finishers participating in the Five Mile Run.
The Five Mile Run was more popular than usual, with more runners than in the previous five years.
“We had a lot of people switch to the Five Mile at the last minute,” Ranna Bieschke, race director. “I think the (slower times) can largely be attributed to the cold temperatures that so many places experienced this winter affecting runners’ training regimens.”
The overall winner of the Half Marathon was 26 year-old Patrick Smyth, a Westminster College track coach. Smyth finished ahead of the pack with a time of 1hour 9 minutes and 55 seconds, several minutes shy of the course record time 1:05:33 set in 1997.
First place in the wheelchair race went to Russell McConahay of Salem, with a time of 54:27.
Marty Wacker, 42, of Grand Junction, Colo., who consistently competes in the Canyonlands Half Marathon, entered into the Five Mile Run this year, dominating the field with a time of 27:58.
The women’s results were close again this year. Kim Dobson, 28 of Grand Junction, Colo., won the women’s overall Half Marathon with a time of 1:20:32. Dobson finished just 20 seconds ahead of Autumn Ray, the 2012 Thelma & Louise champion from Tucson, Ariz. Jana Peale, 19 of Westminster College, took first in the Five Mile Run with a time of 34:07.
The overall Masters (40 years and older) winner was Walter Brown, 41, of South Jordan with a time of 1:15:41. The Sheri Haymore Female Masters award went to Julie Crossley, 44, of Pleasant Grove with a time of 1:30:28.
The first Moab runners to finish the half marathon included Travis Holtby, 25, with a time of 1:21:31 and Lauren Atkinson, 30, with a time of 1:37:26.
“It was a great day. I wasn’t expecting to have such a fast time,” Atkinson said. “It’s always very motivating to be surrounded by lots of people with one common goal.”
Other notable local runners included a trio in the Five Mile Run from the Grand County High School track team. Jacob Francis and Jackson Knowles, finished together with a time of 30:32, and Joseph Andrew 35 seconds behind them.
Participants reported that the race was well organized and exciting for many reasons. “Besides the perfect weather, you could hear the Taiko drummers for miles,” said local runner Nicole Priest. “I do a lot of races and (Moab Half Marathon’s) are always really memorable.”
Supporting the thousands of runners was a volunteer and staff corps of over 450 individuals.
“This event wouldn’t happen without the incredible support we get from our dedicated volunteers,” Bieschke said.
Race organizers made extra effort this year to support the