Ashley Paulson can’t really say exactly what it was about watching her father struggling about 10 miles from the finish of the Deseret News Marathon in 1988.

“I saw him running around Hogle Zoo on those hills, and he looked absolutely miserable,” she said, pointing at her father who was the first to embrace her Monday after she won her third consecutive Deseret News Marathon with a time of 2:51:26.

“But at the same time I was asking ‘Why is he doing it?’ There was also this part of me that was like, ‘Why can’t I do this too, one day?’ He’s been my inspiration ever since. No matter the weather, just get in consistent miles, so I tried to hold onto that.”

Paulson has become something of a running superstar with back-to-back wins at the Bad Water Ultra, which is 135 miles through some of the hottest, toughest terrain in the world.

And then just a couple of weeks later, for the last two years, she’s won the women’s division of the Deseret News Marathon quite handily.

Paulson was a fitness instructor for 20 years, and she still trains more for a triathlon than just marathon training. She feels like it’s given her strength and longevity in a sport that is notorious for overuse injuries.

She hopes to run a marathon this fall to qualify for the U.S. Olympic trials, as many of the top runners did Monday.

She was thrilled with the three-peat, spending a long time wrapped in the arms of the man who inspired her running career.

“He was wearing this exact shirt that I’m wearing today,” said Paulson after she crossed the finish line of the Deseret News Marathon in the shirt her dad wore in 1988.

Paulson had the 10th fastest time overall.

Janel Zick, 31, finished second, with a time of 2:57:15, while Haley Johnston, 24, was third, in 2:58:31.

The last time Michael Ottesen ran a marathon, he had to drop out due to debilitating cramping in his calves. 

His goal in Monday’s Deseret News Marathon was to try to find a solution to the problem because he hopes to run a marathon in the fall that will allow him to qualify for the Olympic trials in the 26.2 mile distance.

The experiment was a failure. 

His race, however, was not, as the 28-year-old engineer won with a time of 2:32:12.

“Today I was trying to use as many anti-cramping techniques as I can think of to see what happened,” said Ottesen, who limped to the medical tent immediately after crossing the finish line.

“I am still cramping. … Overall, it was still kind of a failure day in terms of trying to figure out my cramping and training.”

JaQuavious Harris, Billie Hatch win Deseret News half marathon
Olympian Jared Ward wins Deseret News 10K again
Thomas Pickford, Adria Favero win Deseret News 5K races

And as an added bonus, he suffered something new — a variety of blisters.

“(My feet) were hurting about five miles in,” he said, holding the offending shoes in front of him. It was only his second run in the new shoes.

So what can one do about the burning sensation in his feet with more than 20 miles to go?

“Just had to ignore it,” he said with a shrug. “I wanted to just make it a solo effort to see if the techniques I used will stop the cramping.

“It’s hard to say, honestly because I didn’t feel that great today. The heat was a big factor, and I was hitting the wall before I started cramping.”

Ottesen has been running all of his life. He walked on at BYU and was part of the school’s national championship cross-country team in 2019.

“Now I’m trying to figure out marathoning,” he said.

Some of the top runners took a wrong turn early in the race, including Nate Clayson, who finished second. But he was matter-of-fact about the mistake. 

View Comments

“It just made the workout a little better,” Clayson joked about the wrong turn around Mile 7. 

The heat and extra distance just added to the pioneering spirit of the event, he said. 

“It’s to be expected this time of year,” he said of the weather, which was in the mid-70s as the race started. “I think it kind of fits today and what we’re celebrating. If they walked in the heat, we can run in it.”

Clayson, 37, finished second with a time of 2:33:19 and Jonathan Kotter, 38, was third with a time of 2:36:46.

The Finish Line for the Deseret News 5k, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon on Monday, July 24, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.