SALT LAKE CITY — Allie Moore stepped off the course at Mile 20.
She sat down. She cried.
She was done.
Until her husband, James Moore, found her on the edge of the Deseret News Marathon course and encouraged her to get back up and finish what she had started.
“(He) forced me back up, bless his heart,” said Allie. “He’s the coolest guy in the whole world, he kept me going. He got me back up.”
She regained her feet, battled through the grueling final 6 miles, and crossed the finish line first Thursday morning, winning the Pioneer Day s celebration event for the second-consecutive year.
“It’s a really weird feeling,” Moore said after logging a time of 3:11:56, “because I won the race, and I’m very happy about that, but I’ve trained all summer for a very specific goal.”
She had been working toward a time of 2:50, which would have been a minute faster than her 2013 time. But between the wind, the heat and the challenge of the course, Moore was thrown off her pace.
“It’s always warm for this race, so I prepare for that. I’ve done a lot of heat training. The biggest factor, I think, was the wind,” she said, describing a turbulent 1 1/2-mile stretch going up the back of Little Mountain that drained her.
“It was very windy and I used a lot of energy. I was breathing really hard and that doesn’t usually happen that early in the race,” she said. “At Mile 13, I knew. I was slowing down, I fell off pace, and I tried to stay with it, but I just couldn’t do it.”
Running apart from the crowd at what felt like a caterpillar's pace, Moore mustered strength for another 7 miles before giving out. That was when her husband found her, just in time to allow her to save the first-place finish.
Meredith Sinclair got to the finish line in 3:12:29, just 33 seconds after Moore crossed and collapsed on the ground.
“By the end, I had slowed by over three minutes a mile off my pace and I knew someone was going to catch me,” Moore said. “The second girl was very close to me. It’s the only thing that kept me going through that last mile.”
Thursday’s race was Moore’s 29th marathon and her eighth time running the Deseret News Marathon. Her previous experience combined with Thursday’s race, she said, proved to her that it never gets easy.
“It just proves you can’t figure this race out,” she said. “I have run (the Deseret News Marathon) so many times and last year I had a great time and I thought I had this race figured out. It was the exact opposite this year. You just never know but I love it because it’s the most awesome challenge.”
More than 45 minutes before Moore clocked in, Fritz Van De Kamp reached the finish line for the men’s first-place spot with a time of 2:25:54. Like Moore, he was a repeat champion, with a victory in 2012, and his effort Thursday was more rocky than usual.
“It was a story of ups and downs, I guess,” he said, explaining that he had difficulty maintaining a strategic pace against strong winds at the start of the course.
“I think it took a little bit out of us,” Van De Kamp said of his start alongside a fellow runner. “The other guy, he dropped back at, like, Mile 17, but I think for both of us we went out a little bit too hard.”
He gutted his way through the final 9 miles alone, and ultimately crossed nearly 15 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher. Jonathan Kotter of Salt Lake City was second with a time of 2:40:11 and then Noah Brautigam, also of Salt Lake City, finished third in 2:42:19.
“This was a little bit slower,” Van De Kamp said of his time. “I was 2:22 two years ago, so that wasn’t significantly faster, but I think with the heat and the conditions and maybe not pacing it right probably cost me a few minutes.”
Still, he continued along, ultimately averaging a pace of 5:34 minutes per mile.
“Just go hard and try not to slow down,” he said. “That’s the mentality.’’
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.