Nearly 4,000 runners complete St. George Marathon, women’s course record broken

ST. GEORGE — Nearly 4,000 runners completed the St. George Marathon on Saturday, each finishing the 26.2-mile course in front of cheering crowds at Vernon Worthen Park downtown.

Both the top overall male and overall female finishers also won the race last year. Repeating as the overall male champion was Jonathan Kotter of Holladay, while women’s winner Sylvia Bedford established a new course record.

Kotter, 34, whose winning time of 2:18.07 this year which was slower than last year’s time of 2:16:18, said he ran a more strategic race this year, keeping pace with St. George’s Aaron Metler for the first 20 miles or so before pulling a bit ahead toward the end. The 35-year-old Metler clocked in at second place with a time of 2:19:46.

“Overall, I felt great about it,” Kotter told St. George News at the finish line. “There’s really good competition there. Metler, the local favorite (had me) real worried up until the finish. He’s a tough runner. He kept pushing the pace.”

Bedford, 29, of South Jordan, finished in a time of 2:34:19, more than a minute and a half faster than the previous course record of 2:36:06, set by Deeja Youngquist in 2007. It was also a personal-best effort for Bedford, she said at the finish line.

Top female finisher Sylvia Beford sets a new course record, St. George Marathon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

“It was my PR by about three and a half minutes, so I’m happy with that,” she said, adding that she didn’t encounter any problems other than a malfunctioning wristwatch.

“(It) told me my pace was a lot slower than it was, and that was a little stressful,” Bedford said. “But it was just my watch. I was still on pace.”

Bedford’s remarkable time was also the 13th best time overall, men included. Taking second place among female runners was 24-year-old Emily Barrett of Lehi, who finished in 2:41:57.

Other notable finishers included Chris Sproule, 42, of Las Vegas, who won the handcycle division with a time of 55:58, just one second faster than runner-up Michael Sales, 45, of Colorado.

Brad Ray, 50, of Loveland, Colorado, won the wheelchair division with a time of 1:40:41.

In the assisted category, Brian and Danny Connolly took first place, crossing the finish line in 1:52.13. Danny, 41, of Park City, pushed his older brother Brian, a California resident who has multiple sclerosis, in a custom-made wheelchair cycle. The duo were greeted at the finish line by a throng of cheering friends and family members.

First-year race director Michelle Graves said this year’s marathon had a total of 5,265 registered entrants, representing 49 states and 20 foreign countries. Of those, 3,979 finished Saturday’s race, with the final runners clocking in about 7.5 hours after the race began shortly before 7 a.m.

Moderately cool temperatures and relatively calm weather favored the athletes this year, Graves said.

“When we started up at Central, there was wind, but it was in their favor. They may have started a little bit cold, but they had that draft for a ways, and then we just had perfect weather,” she said.

Race director Michelle Graves near the finish line, St. George Marathon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 5, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Graves thanked the many volunteers who helped stage this year’s race.

“St. George is such a special community,” she said. “I mean, if you’re not volunteering, you’re out there cheering on the runners. That’s what the runners love, that community support that comes from this race.”

Graves also expressed her appreciation for the ongoing support from St. George’s sister city in Ibigawa, Japan.

“We’re really proud of our sister marathon from Ibigawa, Japan,” she said. “That’s been a really neat relationship. We’ve got a contingency of athletes and delegates here. Their students also come here for an exchange. And then we do the same thing for their marathon in November.”

The top Ibigawa finishers on Saturday were 26-year-old Naoya Mabuchi, who placed 13th in the men’s division with a time of 2:35:44, and Yuko Mabuchi, 37, who placed fourth among women with a time of 2:45:08.

For complete official results, click here.

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