Patrick Smyth of Salt Lake City averaged a 5:20-per-mile pace Saturday, March 16, to win the 38th annual Canyonlands Half Marathon with a time of 1 hour, 9 minutes, 55 seconds.
The 26-year-old Westminster College track coach topped runner-up Zak James, 36, of Orem, who clocked 1:11.13.
Kim Dobson, 28, of Grand Junction, Colo., took first place in the women’s half marathon in 1:20:29. She averaged a 6:08 pace to beat second-place finisher Autumn Ray, 33, of Tucson, Ariz., by 20 seconds. Ray won last year’s Thelma and Louise Half Marathon.
Marty Wacker, 42, of Grand Junction won the five-mile race in 27:59 and Jana Peale, 19, of Salt Lake City, topped the women’s field with a time of 34:07.
Moab was well represented in each race.
Travis Holtby, 25, finished 28th overall in the half marathon, clicking off 6:12 miles for a total time of 1:21:31 for the 13.1-mile run.
It was just his second long race, the other being a trail half-marathon in Moab last November shortly after he moved to town. Holtby expressed surprise at how well he did in that event and said it spurred him to train harder for the Moab race.
“It’s so easy to train in Moab because there are all these amazing trails,” said the former Beloit College cross-country runner.
He called the Canyonlands Half Marathon “an aweseome race.”
“It motivated me to have people I knew at each aid station,” Holtby said.
Holtby’s father ran the Canyonlands Half Marathon in the 1980s, and Travis said he honored his dad Saturday by wearing the same shirt.
In the women’s half-marathon competition, 30-year-old Lauren Atkinson of Moab finished 25th with a time of 1:37:26.
A trio of 17-year-old Moab runners was among the leaders in the five-mile race. Jacob Francis placed fourth in 30:32, Jackson Knowles was fifth with the same time, and Joseph Andrew was sixth with a time of 31:07.
Julie Zaranek, 24, of Moab, finished sixth among women in the five-mile event, crossing the finish line in 36:55.
A total of 3,189 runners completed the half marathon with another 824 runners finishing the five-mile.
“We had a lot of people switch to the five mile at the last minute,” said race director Ranna Bieschke. “I think the downgrade can largely be attributed to the cold temperatures that so many places experienced this winter affecting runners’ training regimens.”
Russell McConahay of Salem, Ore., shattered the course record for the wheelchair half marathon with a 54:27 finish for first place among three finishers. The previous record was 58:07 by John Rhoden in 1992.
The scenic courses began on state Route 128 and ended at Swanny City Park. Runners were greeted by lots of fans lining the course near the finish line.
In a first for the race, each finisher received two pints of beer from Moab Brewery in a beer garden set up at the park. Food booths and other vendors also were open throughout the afternoon.
Cloudy skies kept the temperatures relatively cool during the two runs, but sunshine broke through after noon as runners, friends and relatives enjoyed music by the group Jack and Jill at the park pavilion.
Bieschke said runners from 45 states and Canada, Austria, Mexico, Switzerland and the United Kingdom registered for the races. U.S. finishers ranged from Sarah Smullin of New York in the half marathon to Amanda Head of Nome, Alaska, in the five-mile event.
The beauty of the course, Moab hospitality, and race organization drew compliments from many competitors. A member of the University of Wyoming men’s track team said it was the best organized road race he’d ever run.
Bieschke said 450 staff members and volunteers combined to put on the races.
“This event wouldn’t happen without the incredible support we get from our dedicated volunteers,” she said.
Effort was made again this year to support the event’s full transition to compostable cups at every race location. Cups were collected in green compostable bags and taken to a commercial composting facility in Grand Junction. All other waste was sorted into trash, recyclables and conventional compostables, race organizers said.