Why this year’s Deseret News Marathon suddenly got a little more open

Jon Kotter, five-time defending champion, will not return to the Deseret News Marathon to defend his title on Friday. The 36-year-old lawyer from Salt Lake pulled out his hamstrings a few weeks ago.

“It’s improving but not fast enough,” he said this week. “I would love to perform it. I will definitely be back next year. ”

Kotter, winner of seven of the last nine Deseret News marathons – including the last five – was approaching a record even though he didn’t know it. Demetrio Cabanillas won seven consecutive Deseret News marathons from 1976 to 1982, then boycotted the next two races after demanding that the race pay him for his efforts. He won the races of 1984 and 1987 to give him nine wins in total.

“I wasn’t aware of that,” says Kotter, an all-conference long-distance runner for BYU from 2007 to 2010. “(Cabanillas) is a local legend.”

Cabanillas’ back-to-back winning streak is sure; Kotter needs two more wins to tie his winning tally in the race.

In Kotter’s absence there are three co-favorites: former winner Fritz Van de Kamp, Mark Summers and Jace Nye. Van de Kamp, 41, is a longtime runner in Utah; in 2012 he won the Ogden, St. George and Deseret News marathons and over the years has won over a dozen ultra-events. Summers is a former Utah state runner. Nye is a former Big Sky Conference champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Race director Corbin Talley said the women’s marathon was wide open.

The marathon is just one of four races taking place on Friday morning, along with the half marathon and the 10,000 and 5,000 meter races.

These races will feature several national class riders. Jared Ward, sixth in the 2016 Olympic marathon, will compete in the 10k, along with Rory Linkletter, a former All-America long-distance runner for BYU.

Grayson Murphy, who won the 2019 Argentina Mountain Running World Championship, will be among the 10K favorites. Five-time All-American for the University of Utah, she recently finished sixth in steeplechase at the US Olympic Trials in Oregon. She set school records in the 5,000 and 10,000-meter races and steeplechase for Utah.

Murphy will face Lexi Thompson, the Weber State School record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. She won second-team All-America honors in the 10,000-meter race at this year’s NCAA Championships.

Jordan Cross, a former Weber State athlete who also competed in the Olympic trials in the United States this month, will compete in the half marathon.

Deseret News races were canceled last year due to the pandemic, interrupting a long history of racing. The Deseret News Marathon had been held for 48 consecutive years before the interruption. The Deseret News Marathon is Utah’s oldest road race and the fourth oldest marathon west of the Continental Divide.

Talley is trying to get the word out that the race has returned to Utah as the pandemic slows down. He expects around 2,500 people to register for this year’s races, up from around 3,000 two years ago. The race, usually held on July 24 (Pioneer Day in Utah), has been moved to Friday 23 of this year, following the relocation of the Pioneer Day parade. One of the strengths for marathoners is being able to run along the parade route. “We wanted to stay with the parade,” says Talley.

Registration can be done online through Wednesday at midnight or in person at the University Park Marriott until Thursday at 8 p.m.

About Ethel Partin

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