Thousands overcome windy conditions to finish Canyonlands Half Marathon events
by Jeff Richards
Contributing Writer
Mar 20, 2014 | 1187 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Patrick Smyth of Salt Lake City crosses the finish line to win this year’s Canyonlands Half Marathon. Photo by Jeff Richards
Patrick Smyth of Salt Lake City crosses the finish line to win this year’s Canyonlands Half Marathon. Photo by Jeff Richards
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Nearly 3,000 runners finished the 13.1-mile Canyonlands Half Marathon on Saturday, March 15, and another 700 completed the Five Mile Run.

Although no course records were set, numerous runners reported achieving personal-best times despite gusty winds that blew throughout the morning.

“In spite of the wind, the race went amazingly smooth,” said race director Ranna Bieschke. “The half marathon winner was less than two minutes off the record, which is not bad for such a windy day.”

That overall winner of the half marathon was 27-year-old Patrick Smyth of Salt Lake, who crossed the finish line in a time of 1 hour, 7 minutes, and 42 seconds. Smyth’s winning time was three and a half minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, Andrew Catalano, 27, of Colorado Springs, who finished in 1:11.21.

The top female finisher in the half marathon was 29-year-old Malia Mullen of Denver, who finished in 1:24.05.

John Brewer, 63, of Kaysville, the lone competitor in the wheelchair category, crossed the finish line in 1:21.10, which put him among the top 20 finishers overall.

The top local male finisher was Jim Lewis of Moab, who posted a time of 1:27.57, good enough for 188th place overall. The top local female finisher was Moab’s Charla Saunders, 35, who posted a time of 1:45.07, placing her at 350th place overall and 91st among female finishers.

“Everyone enjoyed the tailwind the last two miles,” said Melissa Edge, marketing director for the event, which marked its 39th year.

“The volunteers were awesome and I heard nothing but positive feedback from runners,” Edge added.

Bieschke agreed, saying, “We had exceptional volunteers this year and that is the key ingredient to a great experience for the participants.”

This year, 2,922 runners finished the half marathon race, the lowest total since 2008, when 2,910 completed the race, according to the event’s website.

A total of 716 runners completed Saturday’s five-mile race, which, like the 13.1-mile event, also started on state Route 128 and ended at Swanny City Park in Moab. The five-mile run was staged immediately before the half marathon, with the staggered start time set up to ensure that the last few finishers of the shorter race were crossing the finish line about the same time as the first half marathon finishers.

Taking first place in the five-mile run was 22-year-old Ashi Guiles of Boulder, Colo., who crossed the finish line in a time of 25:57. Coming in a close second was Nick McGraw, 23, of Kingston, Ontario, who finished in 26:09. More than two minutes then elapsed before the third-place runner, Marty Wacker of Grand Junction, Colo., finished in 28:34. Wacker, 43, who won the race outright last year, was the overall winner of the masters’ category, which includes runners age 40 and older.

Lauren Prufer, a 23-year-old from London, Ontario, was the top female finisher in the five-mile run, completing the race in 30:51.

The first local runner to complete the five-mile run was 18-year-old Jackson Knowles. Knowles, a senior at Grand County High School, finished 12th overall with a time of 31:00. The first local female finisher (and second female overall) was 23-year-old Dayna VanArsdol, who finished in 31:10. Audrey Baird, 21, also a former GCHS student, was the third female finisher overall, with a time of 35:15.

Other Moab runners who finished among the top 50 in the five-mile run were Cameron Wakefield, 14, (18th, 34:21); William Byrd, 25, (22nd, 35:06); Joseph Andrew, 18, (26th, 35:32); David Olsen, 53, (32nd, 36:37); Jayelen Knowles, 15, (38th, 37:51); Mackay Wakefield, 14, (47th, 39:07); and 12-year-old Emmeline Heywood (48th, 39:12).

All runners received medals for completing their respective races, and category winners received custom cutting boards made by local company Triassic Industries.

“We heard lots of good feedback on the awards, and the race shirts were also very popular,” Bieschke said.

Complete race results are available on the Canyonlands Half Marathon website: moabhalfmarathon.com.

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