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Conner Mantz eyed an American record in his first marathon. Did the former BYU star break it?

Mantz made his marathon debut in Chicago on Sunday and was the top American with a 7th overall finish

SHARE Conner Mantz eyed an American record in his first marathon. Did the former BYU star break it?
Former BYU runner Conner Mantz made his marathon debut on Sunday, finishing seventh overall and first among Americans at the Chicago Marathon.

BYU distance runner Conner Mantz warms up at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. Mantz made his marathon debut on Sunday, finishing seventh overall and first among Americans at the Chicago Marathon.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Utah native Conner Mantz ran a 2:08:16 in his marathon debut at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, finishing first among American runners and seventh overall in the men’s division.

He also had the second-best marathon debut time from an American — Mantz’s 2:08:16 mark trails only Leonard Korir’s debut time of 2:07:56 in 2019, per LetsRun.com’s Mike Knapp.

“The goal was trying to break the American debut record and I didn’t quite get it. It was a great experience nonetheless,” Mantz said in a post-race press conference. “I could tell I went out a little too quick.” 

Kenya’s Benson Kipruto won the men’s title at the Chicago Marathon in a time of 2:04:24, ahead of Ethiopia’s Seifu Tura (2:04:49) and Kenya’s John Korir (2:05:01).

It’s a busy time for Mantz, a Smithfield native and former two-time individual cross country national champion at BYU, who is getting married next Saturday.

He was on pace to break the American debut record at the halfway point of Sunday’s race — both Mantz and fellow American Frank Lara ran a 1:03:45 in the first half — but Mantz said some pacing issues, particularly in the 10-15k range, caught up with him.

“I think that (10-15K) kind of put me through a little bit of a wringer and I while I didn’t feel great when I hit 20 miles, it was more so at 24 miles and on to the end,” he said. 

It was a good day for BYU racers, as two other former Cougars finished among the top five American men. 

Nicolas Montanez was 13th in the men’s division and fourth among Americans with a time of 2:09:55. Clayton Young’s time of 2:11:51 was 18th overall and fifth among Americans.

Mantz described some of the lessons he learned from his first marathon experience.

“I think a couple of the unknowns were just how beat up your body feels near 24, 25, 26 miles,” Mantz said. “I hit a big wall with one mile to go. The longest I’d run is 25.2 on the dot, so I was kinda surprised that I hit a wall. 

“Fueling close to the end of the race (was another unknown). I don’t think I’ve had that much liquid in my stomach in a race before, and so at the end I didn’t want to take any liquid. I just wanted to run. Those are the two biggest unknowns.”