PROVIDENCE — Exhausted of their cross country eligibility, Weber State runners Billie Hatch and Bailey Wall needed to find a race to help them stay in competitive shape while preparing for their final track season.
The Top of Utah Half Marathon delivered — as did they.
At the annual race that starts seven miles up Blacksmith Fork Canyon and ends at Zollinger Park in Providence, Hatch, a Preston native, won the women’s race with a time of 1 hour, 15 minutes, 27 seconds (5:45 mile pace.) Bailey Wall finished second in 1:16.26 (5:50 pace) and Tawny Bybeewas was third in 1:17.37 (5:55 pace). The three women finished sixth, seventh and eighth overall, respectively.
On the men’s side, Jarred Iacovelli, a Boston native and Salt Lake City resident, won with a time of 1:08:25 (5:13 pace). Benjamin Pachev was second (1:10:08/5:21 pace) and Colby Manson was third (1:11:40/5:28 pace.)
Overall, 529 runners crossed the finish line and were greeted by Fat Boy ice cream bars and Great Harvest Bread, among other goodies.
“We’re kind of just throwing in some fun races to get ready for indoor and outdoor track,” Hatch said. “But this was my first half, so I like went into it just knowing that like, whatever happens, it’s gonna be my very first and best.”
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Wall said. “I didn’t want to hit mile eight and like blow up my race coming downhill. I was worried that I would go too fast and think I felt better than I did. But I mean, overall, I felt really good.”
Hatch, whose parents and sister came down from Preston to support her, entered the race planning on treating it like a tempo run-like workout. But once the race began, the competitive juices started flowing for the 23-year-old.
“After probably like miles six, seven, I was like, I want to race it,” Hatch said.
An added bonus of winning the race is the cash price. Two years ago the two Wildcats student-athletes would have been unable to take a dime of the money, which is $200 for first place and $150 for second place. But under the new Name, Image, and Likeness guidelines, they can up to the amount that matches the expenses of the half marathon (sign-up fee, travel, etc.)
Likewise, utilizing the half marathon for training was Saturday’s overall champion. Iacovelli, who is a member of the Boston Heartbreak Hill running company, is preparing for an upcoming marathon in California.
The 29-year-old, who moved to Utah last year to get his PhD in neuroscience physiology at the University of Utah, prefers flat courses but realized those are hard to come by in the intermountain west.
“Well, I’m not a big fan of downhill courses. This was the least downhill competitive race I could find, it wasn’t too bad,” Iacovelli said. “Beautiful, beautiful course. It was just like a nice morning to get out and run.”
Joining Hatch, Wall and Bybee in the top among women finishers were Kara Roper (1:19:09), Michaela Hackett (1:21:32), Janel Zick (1:22:31), Master’s winner Maika Carlsen (1:24:33), Jessica Stanford (1:25:33), Angie Roane (1:26:51) and KayLee Manwaring (1:30:21).
The top 10 men included Iacovelli, Pachev, Hamson, Ben Van Beekum (1:12:48), Ben Johnson (1:15:19), Mountain Crest High School senior Hyrum Staffanson (1:17:47), Jacob Pachev (1:18:26), Jon Hansen (1:18:46), Master’s winner Melchor Suaste (1:18:56) and Alexander Pachev (1:19:55).
Overall, the race was an opportunity to get outside and “promote health” as Kris Siddoway, the race director, told the runners during the award ceremony.
The next distance road race in Cache County is the Logan City Marathon on Sept. 17.