OGDEN — For the second year in a row, a course record was set for the Ogden Marathon, only this time it was the men’s record that took a beating.

Riley Cook raced through the 26.2-mile layout with a clocking of 2:21:56 in the 18th annual Zions Bank Ogden Marathon that concluded at Historic 25th Street and Grant Avenue on Saturday.

Cook, 37, of South Weber, smashed the former 2009 record by 55 seconds on a picture-perfect day for a stroll through Ogden Canyon.

“It was pretty good conditions. There didn’t seem to be any headwind,” Cook said. “It was a little hot there toward the end and I think I got dehydrated and came in with my arms a little bit numb.”

A cost estimator at Hill Air Force Base, Cook said he runs 10 to 15 races a year and gauges his pace on how he feels in the moment.

“I try to not worry about time until the second half of the race, but I came through the first half at 1:10:43 so I knew I was on course record pace,” Cook said. “But then I had to stop for a quick bathroom break, so I wasn’t sure if I was on pace or not anymore.”

“But then with 5K to go, I realized I was ahead of course-record pace and I just tried to hold on,” Cook said.

This is the fifth time Cook has run the Ogden Marathon. He won it two years ago in cold, wet conditions and heavy rain.

“I think my effort this year was similar to that race, just quite a bit faster because of the weather,” Cook said.

Cook was nearly 15 minutes faster than second-place finisher Jason Howe, 40, of Salt Lake who ran 2:36:45, while Melchor Suaste, 40, of West Valley City came in third at 2:38:46.

Ashley Paulson, 36, from St. George won the women’s marathon with a time of 2:51:58 and placed 14th overall in the entire field.

In control the whole race, Paulson only faltered at the finish line when she checked her fanny pack and found her phone missing, then discovered it was in her hand.

“Lack of oxygen to the brain after 26.2 miles,” she said. “Plus, I woke up at 3 a.m. this morning to drive from Herriman to Ogden, so I’ve been up for a while.”

Paulson has run the Ogden Marathon three times and is in training for the Boulder Iron Man competition in three weeks.

“It was a pretty good race. I didn’t look at my watch at all; I just wanted to go off the field today,” Paulson said. “I felt really good the whole time, just breathing easy.”

She broke the tape almost 12 minutes ahead of women’s second-place runner Rosy Lee, 41, of Mountain Green who finished at 3:03:43. Janel Zick, 26, from Salt Lake City checked in at third with a time of 3:06:23.

“I knew I was leading and there wasn’t anyone near me. I just tried to run my race and if that got me first, then great,” Paulson said. “I was really thrilled with that.”

“I’m a triathlete and I do a lot of swimming and biking — and a mom of four kids — so my kids keep me really busy when I’m not training,” she added.


There may have been two course records broken, as earlier in the day Aaron Fletcher, 26, of Salt Lake City, crossed the finish line in the men’s half-marathon with a blazing time of 1:05:19. Ogden Marathon officials were not able to verify it was the fastest ever, but the consensus was it was the best since at least 2012.

Fletcher, a civil engineer from Salt Lake City, had not run in the Ogden Marathon before and is in training for the Grandma Marathon in Minnesota next month. He used Ogden as a tune-up to see where he was at.

This was only Fletcher’s second half-marathon competition, but he said he trains daily by running that distance — 13.1 miles — every morning.

“I graduated from BYU a couple of years ago and knew I wanted to keep running, and I eventually decided to hit some long races,” he said.

Kurt Ward, 28, of Ogden, came in second with a time of 1:12:29 and Jason Holt, 31, from Clearfield — last year’s winner at this distance — finished third at 1:13:12.

The women’s winner of the half-marathon was Merrilee Blackham, a 40-year-old mother from Ogden with a time of 1:19:26. She also coaches track and cross country at Ogden High School.

Blackham has placed third in this race in the past and wanted to take home the prize.

“It wasn’t quite as good as I hoped for; we had perfect conditions and everything, but that was what I had in me today, so I’ll take it,” Blackham said. “I kind of ran the race alone and it’s hard to pace yourself when you’re by yourself.”

She ran a full marathon in January and plans to run the Chicago Marathon in the fall, so went the half-marathon route to “get my legs moving again and get back into racing a little bit.”

Blackham had the seventh fastest time in the race, men included.

Lauren Reasoner, 33 from Sahuarita, Arizona came in second with a time of 1:23:18 and Ayisha Mitchell, 33, out of Pleasant Grove, grabbed third, clocking 1:25:26.


Teenagers dominated the 5K race, as 15-year old Mason Froerer, from Eden, repeated his 5K title with a time of 17:21, while Jericho Hill, 17, from Farr West took second with 18:54 and Kelton Johnson, of Clearfield, nabbed third at 19:23.

On the women’s side, Jennifer Farley, 37, of Ogden, took first place with a time of 21:21 and finished 10th overall in the field. Whitney Krahn, 34, from Huntsville was second at 22:44 and Eva Harris, 34, a Layton resident was third at 23:48.

More than 6,000 runners participated in the day’s events, including over 1,400 in the full marathon and nearly 3,100 in the half-marathon.

Participants came from 42 states and five countries.

Last year’s economic impact on the area was estimated at $1.2 million, according to Jenny Scothern, executive director of the GOAL Foundation.

The Ogden Marathon is the major component of the GOAL Foundation’s weekend of running and participation events for Weber County residents and visitors.

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