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Ogden Marathon returns for first time in 3 years; Riley Cook a familiar winner

By Bob Judson - Special to the Standard-Examiner | May 21, 2022
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Runners take off at the start of the half-marathon of the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022, in Eden.
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Ryan Froerer gestures after completing his race during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Runners make their way past a mural of the late Joe McQueen in downtown Ogden during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Half-marathon runners move past a barn in Eden during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Runners move through the course in Ogden Canyon during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Paige Iverson runs past the waterfall near the mouth of Ogden Canyon during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Clinton Morris hits the pavement of a downtown Ogden street during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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People mingle on the Ogden Amphitheater plaza near the finish line of the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Cheri Fine runs near the finish line in downtown Ogden during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Participants run in Ogden Canyon during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Runners make their way through Ogden Canyon during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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A man carries plates of food during Ogden Marathon festivities on Saturday, May 21, 2022, in downtown Ogden.
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Half-marathon runner Kelli Porter reaches the finish line of the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Half-marathon runner Justin Johnson keeps moving during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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From left, 12K runners Sherida Malan, Mi Stark and Desirae Armstrong near the finish line during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Runners pound the pavement on the Ogden River Parkway trail during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Runners make their way down a downtown Ogden street as a crowd of spectators looks on during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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A close-up of the 2022 Ogden Marathon participation medal is seen Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Marathon runners make their way through downtown Ogden during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Runners reach the finish line of the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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People sit and listen to music in downtown Ogden during Ogden Marathon festivities on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Emma McNeil runs the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Chase Call gestures as he runs the Ogden Marathon 12K on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Spectators watch runners reach the finish line in downtown Ogden during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
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Jeffrey Beck runs in the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

OGDEN — America First Credit Union was the new title sponsor of the 21st running of the Ogden Marathon on Saturday.

Also new was the first live staging of the race since 2019 — with the finish line at the corner of Historic 25th Street and Grant Avenue — because of COVID-19 issues.

Everything else was pretty much the same — especially Riley Cook, who won the Ogden Marathon men’s division yet again.

Cook, of South Weber, has won the race in 2016, 2018, 2019 and now 2022, meaning three races in a row, with the pandemic pause, and four of the last five.

“I just kept training all through that down time (because of COVID),” Cook said. “Every now and then there were a few races here and there. I think it’s my second marathon since (2019).”

With a winning time of 2:25:45, Cook was more than 11 minutes faster than second-place runner Kevin Lambert, 37, of Layton, who finished at 2:36:59.

But it wasn’t always easy.

“This race will humble you; it’s still a struggle,” Cook said. “My stomach was giving me a hard time around the lake and I was running kind of slow, then it kind of gave me a break and I was able to kick it back up again.

“I think it’s the slowest time that I’ve won a race with. I had to stop twice to use the restrooms. Luckily, I had a lead, so I didn’t lose much ground. I ran pretty conservative until the canyon, then I got moving.”

Still young at 41, Cook says he’ll keep competing for as long as he can.

“I love this race,” he said. “I’m getting up there in age, you know. I am getting older. I don’t know how much longer I have that I can be competitive for the overall win. I kind of live as if it could go away at any time, so I just try to make the most of it while I still can.”

Mortality was weighing on Cook’s mind, as he had a neighbor and friend who died earlier this year of brain cancer.

“When he was diagnosed a little over a year ago, he said, ‘Hey Riley, I’m running the Ogden Marathon in 2022.’ He would tell me that every time I saw him,” Cook said. “He passed away in February and I wore his pin and I dedicate this race to him. He wanted to run this race, but he ran it with me in spirit.”

Adam Behrendt, 35, of Bozeman, Montana, finished third with a time of 2:39:24.

On the women’s side, Janel Zick, 30, from West Valley City, continued her successful run in the Ogden Marathon.

Zick finished third in 2018, didn’t finish in 2019, then won Saturday with a time of 2:53:26, 11th overall among all participants.

“This is my comeback year. It’s a great course and I’ve missed it the last three years,” Zick said. “The goal was to be competitive and race again, but you never know who’s going to show up, so you’ve just got to give what you’ve got on the day and see what happens.”

Zick had a 2 1/2-minute cushion over second-place finisher Christina Perry, 40, of Salt Lake City, who ran 2:55:57 while Julie Meads, 37, of Pleasant Grove came in third at 2:58:20.

“At the half, I didn’t think a female was that far behind, maybe a minute or so, but I led pretty much from the firing of the gun to the breaking of the tape. I didn’t expect to, but that’s just the way it happened. It’s my second fastest time ever; I ran 2:47 in St. George.”

Joshua Frey, 23, of Provo, won the men’s half-marathon in his first attempt, with a time of 1:13:13, a half-minute ahead of Asher Brown, 17, of Ogden, who ran it in 1:13:43. Brad Murray, 22, of Provo, finished third at 1:13:57.

“A friend of mine and I were looking around for a race and thought this might be fun,” Frey said. “It’s a really nice course; I like the downhill. I beat my PR (personal record) by three minutes, so it was a huge run for me.”

Tawny Bybee, 35, of Alpine, ran the half-marathon for the first time and won it in 1:17:50, besting Chloe Reynolds, 31, of Ogden (1:18:15) and Jessie Parker, 32, of Farr West (1:19:17).

“It’s so much more fun than the full. I ran the full here, way back in the day, and I don’t even remember the second half. But running the second half today, I was able to take advantage of the course,” Bybee said. “We had a tailwind, the crowd was cheering, it was so fun.”

She finished seventh overall among all runners.

“During COVID, I did a lot of virtual racing with myself and tried to keep in shape when the races opened up again. My husband and I have four kids and we’re still trying to run with the young bucks; we’ll see how long we can keep up,” Bybee said. “I led from the onset, but there were two girls that came up on me about mile three, four, so we had a little pack. But then a couple of miles later there was a bit of a gap and I broke away and I never saw them again.”

Overall, runners of all ages were just glad to be back on the course, wishing never again to have a pause in the action.

And, if Cook continues his dominance in the Ogden Marathon, officials might consider renaming it the “Riley Cook Memorial,” but hopefully that is a long way off in the future.

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