Travis Fuller entered the Salt Lake City Marathon field in hopes of finishing a competitive 26.2-mile race for the first time.
Truth be told though, Fuller was thinking in terms greater than that and had good reason to do so.
Fuller, who trained with and got advice from some of the best known long-distance runners in the state, raced away from the rest of the men’s competitors and crossed the line in 2 hours, 27, minutes, 53 seconds Saturday.
But Fuller said that maybe his best counsel came from home.
“You know, my old man was an Olympian in the sport of wrestling. I love talking to him before races,” Fuller said. “He had called me. I was stressing about a few things, and he said just stop stressing, just relax and go have some fun.
“Just be confident, your body is going to hold up. Just people believing. Honestly, sometimes it’s just a head game. Everybody was just being so supportive.”
Mark Fuller, Travis’ father, competed at the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympics in Greco-Roman wrestling.
Travis Fuller graduated from Mountain View High in Orem and went on to run at BYU. Fuller competed in the mile, steeplechase and 3-mile cross-country events for the Cougars.
Fuller tried his first marathon last October but pulled out at the 10-mile mark in Chicago.
“I was actually probably more fit for that one than this, but my calves gave out,” Fuller said.
Fuller said that famed BYU runner Ed Eyestone was one of those he worked with leading up to Saturday’s marathon as well as fellow former Cougar Jared Ward, who finished sixth at the Olympic marathon in 2016.
Fuller moved out to the lead near the midway point on the course Saturday, which started at the University of Utah and stretched south into Holladay before finishing near the Salt Lake City marathon.
Daniel Bishop of Salt Lake City finished second at 2:31.19, and Colorado Springs’ Samson Mutua was third (2:31.52).
“I’ve run 25 [miles] several Saturdays and then a month ago, even though we get told not to run a full marathon in practice, but I went 26.2 miles just so I could tell myself I had done it at least — and my calves could hold up,” Fuller said.
Jen Rock from Macomb, Mich., easily took first in the women’s marathon race, crossing in 2:50.23.
Her time was a full 12 minutes better than women’s second-place finisher Tara Beth Lewis from Lehi. Janel Zick from Salt Lake City took third for the women.
Rock was in town for an occupational therapy conference and opted out at some of the post-race events to go to another meeting at the AOTA event at the Salt Palace.
“I signed up for this in September or October. When I knew I was going to the conference, I just google-searched races in Salt Lake City,” Rock said. “This popped up. I thought this was a sign to sign up for the marathon. I needed the motivation.”
Rock’s time was the ninth-best overall for all marathon, men and women, contestants.
“I missed the first half of the conference today to come here,” Rock said. “They’ll probably be pretty surprised. I don’t think they thought I was going to take it this seriously. They thought it was pretty impressive that I was running the marathon in general.”
Men’s marathon top 5 • 1. Travis Fuller, 2:27:54; 2. Daniel Bishop, 2:31:20; 3. Samson Mutua, 2:31:53; 4. Benjamin Kopecky, 2:35:15; 5. Skylar Riggs, 2:40:46
Women’s marathon top 5 • 1. Jen Rock, 2:50:24; 2. Tara Beth Lewis, 3:02:33; 3. Janel Sick, 3:08:19; 4. Christina Perry, 3:09:37; 5. Haley Alexander, 3:13:52
Men’s half marathon top 5 • 1. Riley Cook, 1:06:47; 2. Nathan Peters, 1:08:49; 3. Ben Van Beekum, 1:13:11; 4. Derek Delancey, 1:13:56; 5. Nate Blouin, 1:14:33
Women’s half marathon top 5 • 1. Emily Jameson, 1:22:12; 2. Allison Delancey, 1:23:42; 3. Megan Flanagan, 1:27:57; 4. Emma Garrard, 1:28:13; 5. Lauren Mills, 1:29:26