When Jason Howe was a college student more than 20 years ago, his wife tried to convince him to give running a try.
Howe was hesitant at first and even said, “I actually hated running,” but her persistence paid off. The Salt Lake City resident went on to compete in his first marathon in 2002 and has been hooked ever since.
“I love it. I mean, I’m completely addicted to it,” Howe said. “She’s created a monster and she regrets every day that she got me out running because it’s kind of consumed everything.”
Indeed, road racing is a big part of the now 44-year-old’s life. Case in point: Howe has showcased his talents in 127 marathons and he continues to excel in the 26.2-mile races. After all, Howe has now reigned supreme in 26 full marathons thanks to his victory at the third annual Logan Marathon, which took place Saturday.
It capped off a rewarding two-week stretch for Howe, who was also the overall champion at the Big Cottonwood Marathon on Sept. 10.
“It feels good,” Howe said. “I like to run to challenge myself and when you’re running marathons you can’t really control who’s in the field is how they’re going to run and how you’re going to finish, so I try not to let that be my focus. I try and just focus on my own performance and try and improve a little bit each year, so yeah I’m satisfied and happy with my performance.”
Howe completed the Big Cottonwood course in 2 hours, 28 minutes, 4 seconds, which is very impressive for someone over the age of 40. Finishing with a similar time at the Logan Marathon was not realistic, inasmuch as it is a flat course, while the Big Cottonwood course features more than 5,000 feet of elevation loss.
A 15-20 MPH headwind also took its toll among the athletes on their way back from Mendon, so the times were slower than normal. Nevertheless, Howe still managed to clock in at 2:43:36, which was more than four minutes faster than his time on this course when he was the runner-up in 2019.
Still, it was a battle of attrition for Howe, who called the section between miles 15 and 21 “the toughest six-mile stretch I’ve ever ran.”
“I felt like I was going so slow, like I was standing still,” said Howe, who competed in the Top of Utah Marathon nine times. “I thought the entire field was going to pass me, but no one did, so I guess I just lucked out. But it is was hard, it was really hard.”
Janel Zick, who captured the women’s title and finished fourth overall, felt the same way.
“You’re a little disappointed because you missed your goal time, but you just have to fall back on (the fact that) everyone’s dealing with the same conditions, so you’ve just got to deal with it and go,” she said.
Like Howe, Zick did not run in college and has developed into a very good endurance athlete. It’s been a successful four-week stretch for the West Valley City resident as she placed fifth in a very strong women’s field at the Top of Utah Half Marathon on Aug. 28, and was triumphant at the East Canyon Marathon a week later.
Zick completed the East Canyon Marathon in 3:00:59 and crossed the finish line in downtown Logan in 3:12:41. Like Howe, Zick ran by herself nearly the entire way.
“I went solo most of the way,” said Zick, who has now completed 26 marathons. “You know, the first half was pretty good and then I slowed way down the second half. ... But I didn’t know who was behind me, or how close they were, or anything like that.”
Zick, like most Utahns, is used to competing in marathons that feature a substantial amount of elevation loss. However, the 29-year-old did enjoy the change of pace that Saturday’s course provided.
“I love the course,” said Zick, who was the top overall female in the 2019 Salt Lake City Marathon. “The course is really great. You know, because there’s no coverage, though, it could have been really hot, which I’m thankful it wasn’t, but that also meant there is no wind blockage either, so it’s kind of going to be a hit or miss with the weather. But the course is actually really good.”
Zick headlined a successful race for the women, who had five athletes in the overall top nine and eight in the top 15. The silver medalist on the women’s side was Murray’s Emily Bowen, who clocked in at 3:17:48, which was just 13 seconds before Jessica Stanford (3:18:01).
Megan Drake finished fourth in the women’s field with a time of 3:22:24. She was followed by Preston’s Emily Burnett (3:22:39), Richmond’s Tatum Burke (3:36:30), Logan’s Melody Fryer (3:39:06), Baylee Vogler (3:39:54), Kaylee Manwaring (3:44:58) and Smithfield’s Kelli Spencer (3:48:34).
Placing second on the men’s side was Saratoga Springs resident Devan Savage, who covered the course in 2:50:10. Rounding out the top 10 in the men’s field were Derek Rasmussen (3:11:43), Smithfield’s Max Jones (3:16:13), Jonathan Roy (3:31:00), Adam Butts (3:32:11), Logan’s Kaleb Shoell (3:32:46), Grant Keaton (3:40:58), Seth Walker (3:41:20) and Jacob Dove (3:41:32).
There were 147 competitors who completed the event — 93 men and 54 women.
It was a memorable Saturday at Logan’s Wade McFarland, who competed in his 100th marathon. McFarland, who is still going strong in the men’s 65-69 division, crossed the finish line in 4:18:46.
The third installment of the Logan Marathon also featured three other disciplines — a 20K, 10K and 5K.
Tyler Brown, of Ammon, Idaho, claimed the gold medal in the 20K with his time of 1:17:31. Logan’s Sarah Teeples beat all comers in the women’s field and traversed the course in 1:38:42.
Other champions were Mark Israelson (men’s 10K, 37:30), Kari Page (women’s 10K, 45:56), Nathan Sheffield (men’s 5K, 17:00) and Madi Gardner (women’s 5K, 25:34). Sheffield and Gardner are both Cache Valley residents.
There were 77 total finishers in the 20K, 73 in the 10K and 77 in the 5K.