SALT LAKE CITY — Annie O'Donnell set the bar pretty high in her first marathon.
The 26-year-old veterinary student moved to Park City for the summer so she could work at the Park City Animal Clinic. And while the former Davidson College runner planned to run a few races, a marathon wasn't on her to-do list.
"I guess I had it in mind that one day I'd do a marathon, but I wasn't planning on doing a marathon this summer," said O'Donnell, who won the women's Deseret News Marathon on Tuesday morning with a time of 2:53:49.3. "I ran a couple of races with Fritz Van de Kamp (who won the men's marathon), and he said he was running this race.
"Being my first marathon, I wanted to run with someone I knew. Having his support was probably the main reason I signed up."
O'Donnell took a break from competitive running after college, but said her success this summer has reminded her why she loved it.
"It got to be a little too much," she said. "But now that I've gotten back into it, I kind of recognize my passion for running competitively. I can definitely see myself running more marathons and hopefully getting the time down."
She's only 11 minutes off the time needed to compete at the Olympic qualifying marathon.
"That's a fun goal to have," she said.
O'Donnell said she enjoyed the unusually cool weather and the cloud cover provided by early morning rain showers. There was a stunning rainbow after the rain, which was light and fell about an hour and a half into the race, which began at 5:30 a.m. at Big Mountain.
She said she wasn't sure exactly how well she could do because she was familiar with some of the other women in the race.
"I don't know," she said of being surprised. "I guess it depends on who comes out (for a race). I know Allie (Moore, who took second place) is a really strong runner, and I'd never run a marathon so I didn't really know what I was doing. I knew I could push myself, and I knew the possibility was there.
"I also realized that not knowing what I was getting myself into, I could have a hard race."
She felt great until about mile 17 and that's when she said, "I realized I'm running a marathon!"
Moore, 25, Salt Lake City, was second with a time of 2:57:16.5; Neisha Rygg, 35, Henderson, Nev., was third with a finish time of 3:16:37.4.