SALT LAKE CITY — When Jon Kotter was a little boy, he spent the early-morning hours on Pioneer Day watching his father finish the Deseret News Marathon before watching the Days of ’47 Parade.
Now 28, the family tradition remains intact, only instead of gathering to watch Jon's father, the Kotter clan crowds the finish line cheering for Jon. Kotter made their early-morning trip worth it Wednesday when he won the Deseret News Classic Marathon with a time of 2:30.06.
“It’s always been a family favorite,” Kotter said of the marathon that’s been held on Pioneer Day for 44 years. “We started watching my dad come in, and now it’s continued with me.”
Kotter started “running consistently” when he was 10 or 11 because of his father Scott.
“I ran my first marathon when I was 12,” he said, laughing as he admits he loved distance running from the start. “I enjoyed it right away. I did it well, and it was always a lot of fun for me. It’s been fun for me to do some of the same races as my dad.”
Kotter remembers the first time he beat his father in a race.
“I still remember it was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K,” he said. “I was 13 the first time I beat my dad. I haven’t looked back since.”
Kotter ran track and cross-country at Alta, where his favorite race was the 3,200 meters. He ran at BYU and became somewhat of a specialist in the 10K. He made all-conference in the 10K and academic All-American his senior season, and then moved on to law school.
He won the Deseret News Marathon in 2011, but couldn’t defend that title as he had to take the bar exam last year on July 24.
“Running is a nice break from the law, and being a lawyer is a nice break from running,” he said laughing.
He lined up Wednesday with high expectations.
“Was I expecting to win? No,” he admitted. “But I was hoping for it, hoping I could defend my title, even if was a year removed.”
The runner who won the marathon last year, Fritz Van de Kamp, opted to race in the new Deseret News half-marathon race, where he placed third. Kotter said he ran with the second-place finisher, Orem’s Alexander “Sasha” Pachev, 40, who finished in 2:37:55. John Rosswog, 33, Salt Lake City, was third with a time of 2:45:16.
“I felt great,” Kotter said of his race. “Twenty-six miles is never easy, but I felt roughly good at the end. It was particularly fun to have my mom and dad and several of my sisters there to cheer me on.”
Like Kotter, Allie Moore, the winner of the women's marathon, was focused on her goal to reach a certain time rather than where she might place.
“I had sort of a loose time goal,” she said. “It was 2 hours 53 minutes, and I came in just under that.”
The 26-year-old Salt Lake resident’s winning time was 2:51:34, while second place finisher, Meredith Sinclair, 35, also of Salt Lake, ran the course in 3:03:51. Michelle Lowry, 36, was third with a time of 3:06:28.
Moore said she felt great, as she led right from the start.
“A couple of women came up right at first, and those miles are really fast,” said Moore, who has won five marathons and helped the Wasatch Running Center’s Ultra team win its division in 2012. “I broke away in the second mile, and mostly ran alone. I couldn’t see anyone else.”
That was a double-edged sword.
“I enjoyed it,” she said. “It’s peaceful; that canyon is beautiful. But you have a lot of time to think — second-guess things, worry about pace, and stuff like that.” Other years, including when she won the race in 2009, she's had to focus on keeping pace, fending off other runners, or catching the leaders.
Moore didn’t find running until her senior year of high school.
“I found that I really enjoyed it,” she said. “Because I wasn’t running in college, I started running marathons to stay connected to the running world.”
Her first marathon was the Deseret News race in 2005.
“I found that was the distance I liked over anything else,” she said. “It was my favorite.” She dove into the sport without really understanding it.
“I started out not really knowing what I was doing at all,” she said. “Over the years, I’ve just tweaked my training, and I’ve learned a lot of stuff from other people.”
Wednesday’s win was one of the best races she’s run on the Deseret News course.
“I’ve had some pretty bad last few miles,” she said laughing. “I think I was more prepared, had better training leading up to the race.”
Moore plans to run Top of Utah Marathon, while Kotter said his next marathon will be St. George.
Top 10 female finishers:
1. Allie Moore (26) Salt Lake City 2:51:34.0
2. Meredith Sinclair (35) Salt Lake City, 3:03:51.0
3. Michelle Lowry (36) Woodland Hills, 3:06:28.2
4. Nicki Hugie Terry (29) Arlington, Va., 3:06:46.3
5. Jamie Whetman (31) Salt Lake City, 3:11:23.0
6. Josse Tobiasson (35) Orem, 3:13:16.9
7. Mckenzie Montague (35) Elk Ridge, 3:19:33.1
8. Amber Walker (29) Salt Lake City, 3:20:49.0
9. Amy Allred (28) Kaysville, 3:21:47.3
10. Jessica Jackson (30) Dexter, Mich., 3:22:26.2
Top 10 male finishers:
1. Jonathan Kotter (28) Salt Lake City, 2:30:06.01 comment on this story
2. Alexander Pachev (40) Orem, 2:37:55.8
3. John Rosswog (33) Salt Lake City, 2:45:16.3
4. Daniel Bishop (22) Salt Lake City, 2:48:41.8
5. Chris Shane (33) Holladay, 2:52:36.7
6. Jason Howe (36) Salt Lake City, 2:53:39.1
7. Todd Griffith (26) South Jordan, 2:56:19.1
8. Theodore Danielson (38) Littleton, Colo., 2:56:38.9
9. Thomas Walsh (27) Salt Lake City, 2:59:37.8
10. Andrew Jones (33) Salt Lake City, 3:04:04.0