OGDEN -- With her hands outstretched to give high fives and her smile wide, Cynthia Fowler cruised to a new Ogden Marathon course record Saturda morning, winning the women's race with a time of 2 hours, 47 minutes, and 22 seconds.
In the men's race, Fritz Van de Kamp was eight seconds off the men's record, running a 2:22:59 for his fourth victory (third consecutive) on a perfect-running-weather day enjoyed by thousands of runners and spectators.
"It was so fun," said Fowler, a Farmington resident who was running the full Ogden Marathon for the first time. "I'm so excited. I was shooting for 2:50, so 2:47 is great."
Fowler said she's run seven marathons, but this is her first since having her two kids.
"It was a great downhill in the canyon -- that helps with those last three miles where you have to work," she said.
Her closest female competitor was Jasmine Sessions, also from Farmington. She was 15 minutes back from Fowler at 3:02.
Fowler credited the bike pacer with helping her move through the half marathon congestion on the parkway and said the beautiful course helped her get through the miles.
"Running down the canyon is so pretty. You just start clipping away at the miles," said Fowler.
Van de Kamp, the men's winner by six minutes, said he tried to be patient this year by running a slower first half and then picking up the pace in the second half.
"I did better this year," he said. "I really like this race. I know all the turns and how to pace myself."
Van de Kamp said he had two advantages this year, the bike pacer and being a VIP racer.
"My secret is to stay warm until the start. As a VIP they let us stay in the bus until right before the start," he said.
Seth Wold, a Lehi resident who holds the course record, was second place, and said he's racing his way back into shape, but if he had to be beat, he was glad it was Van de Kamp.
"He's a great runner, a great person," said Wold, who raced in Altras, a shoe that he helped develop with a Utah-based company of the same name.
Wold said he'll have to come back next year to see if he can beat Van de Kamp.
"This is a beautiful course. I love the race organization and I run well here," he said.
Many of the top runners cited the beauty and organization of the race as their reasons for running the race.
In the women's half marathon, second-place runner Angie Beebe (1:25:06) said the aid stations were a highlight.
"There was a pirate station with two dressed up skeletons and a sign that said, 'You are not dead yet.' That kept me going," said Beebe, who resides in South Weber. "It was a good race."
She was beaten by Midway resident Danya Crawford, who had to make up a slow start due to a shoelace tangle, and barely passed Beebe in the last stretch.
"It was good -- good ups and downs, nice weather. It's a fun local race," said Crawford who is training for the full Utah Valley Marathon. Crawford's time was 1:23:56.
In the men's half marathon race, former Weber State standout and a Fremont High graduate Bryant Jensen ran a brisk 1:08:09 to set a new course record in the men's half. It was his first time running the half marathon, although he was second in the 2010 Ogden full marathon. He beat Ogden resident and former Weber State teammate Riley Cook (1:08:44).
"I ran the whole canyon with Riley," said Jensen. "Then on the parkway I made my move and gapped him and took it in from there."
Jensen said that he's racing into shape as well.
"I love the course and I wanted to run the canyon, so I said, 'Let's do the half,' " he said.
Janae Richardson, an Ogden resident and co-owner of utahrunning.com, ran the half also. She said the race was an amazing boon for Ogden.
"There are a few climbs, but you get distracted by the beautiful lake and the steam coming off of it, and then the downhill canyon and all the people on the parkway to keep you motivated. It's the perfect course to run a good time and enjoy the event," said Richardson.
The men's 5K was won by Steve Shepherd of Roy in 15:38 and the women's 5K was won by Jennifer Stevens of Willard in 18:41. The marathon relay was won by team Big Sexy in 3:06.24.
Full results of all Ogden Marathon races can be viewed at http://www.getoutandlive.org/ogden-marathon.