BYU-I student Aaron Withers won the Teton Dam Marathon last weekend just as he did last year, but that wasn’t his goal this time - he was more focused on beating his mission president’s time. His former mission president, Christopher Randall, now serves as the Assistant Executive Secretary for the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“It wasn’t my goal to win necessarily,” Withers said. “I wanted to run two hours and 40 minutes. My mission president ran a two-hour 47 minutes marathon. I thought it’d be kind of fun to see how close I could get to his best time. It was more about the time than getting first place.”
Withers plans to travel to Utah for a mission friend’s wedding this weekend where he plans to let Randall know what happened during the marathon.
“I won’t rub it in his face too much, but I’ll tell him know,” Withers said. “It’ll be fun.”
Withers ran about 20 minutes faster than last year when he ran 3:01:28.
“I actually wasn’t (more tired) this time because I trained harder,” Withers said. “Last year my longest run was 14 miles, and I only did one of those as I was training for the Marathon. Twenty-six miles was a stretch, and my body definitely could feel it. This time I ran a lot more of those longer runs — more 16-17 milers. I ran seven or eight of those throughout my training. So, that just helped get my body running that far.”
Just running a marathon is difficult for most people, but Withers love for running helps him enjoy it.
“Running has always been something that I could just fall back on, and I just love it,” Withers said. “It wasn’t hard for me to try a little bit harder and run faster.”
Withers knew he was in the lead from the start when he was flying down the beginning of the course that includes a 600 foot drop.
“I was flying pretty quick,” Withers said. “I knew I was in first.”
Withers is thankful for his talent in running.
“It’s just a big blessing,” Withers said. “Even now I’m just grateful that I’m physically able to do things like that and just throw myself into something that I love. Especially with school classes and other things that can be stressful. It’s just nice to always be able to do something I love.”
Will Withers go for the three-peat?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I just kind of feel bad beating everyone.”
Pocatello native and eight-time Pocatello marathon winner Penny Parrish was the first female finisher with a time of 3:13:47.
Recently graduated Sugar-Salem’s track star Kooper Williams is still winning. He placed first in the Half Marathon with a time of 1:23.16. Keysah Stutz of Rexburg placed first in the half Marathon with a time of 1:31:32.
Fifteen-year-old Hyrum Spencer of Monteview placed first in the 10K with a time of 36:13 and 16-year-old Elizabeth Spencer finished in the female category with a time of 43:12.
Eighteen-year-old Zachary Erickson of Idaho Falls finished first in the 5K with a time of 15:57. Christine Hauger of Soda Springs finished first female category with a time of 20:24.
The average age of the male winners is 18 years old and the average of the female winners was 38 years old.
There were five new course records this year. The Relay winning team: Dam Dam Double Dam ran 3:37:33. The Corporate Challenge relay winning team: Grifols Riddle Me This ran a 3:13:11.
Only one participant came from outside the country. They are from Barcelona, Spain. Participants came from 29 different states with the majority from Idaho or Utah.