Early Saturday morning, over 7,600 hundred runners descended on southern Utah for the 35th Annual St. George Marathon. This year’s race would be a little different though, being run without last year’s hometown winner, Aaron Metler.
Instead of defending his title, Metler has bigger plans and bigger goals to achieve.
“The Olympic trials are something that has been a goal for me. This is really the last chance to qualify for the trials in January, and so I’m going to do the Chicago Marathon this year and give it a shot to qualify for the trials (qualifier),” said Metler.
Since the annual race began in Utah’s Dixie in 1977, it has been run 35 times, but has never been won by a local Washington County resident. The highest place for a marathon finisher from Washington County was 2nd place in 2008.
Metler changed that last year, not only winning the race with an impressive time of 2:22:08, but also doing so as a debut runner in his first marathon ever. While he did not participate in this year’s marathon as a runner, he was involved with the organization of the event as an employee of the city of St. George–an organization which recently was recognized for their efforts in planning, coordinating, and executing the marathon by a national running publication.
“The St.George Marathon was voted the best organized in Runners World last year, and it’s for a reason. The staff that we have here is incredible and the work they put in to put on this event is exceptional,” Metler said.
Runner’s World and Metler aren’t the only ones praising the annual race in Utah’s Dixie. This year’s version of the race brought in a record number of participants along with supportive family and friends from across the nation.
Metler, meanwhile, says he’ll be pounding the pavement next year in the St. George Marathon.
“I will be back next year for sure, and hopefully every year after that. I won’t be able to defend this year, gotta give some else a chance,” Metler said.