St. George Half-Marathon: Eric Nelson, Jackie Hendrickson finish first in 40th annual race

·3 min read

Around 400 runners of all ages gathered to run the 40th annual St. George Half-Marathon on Saturday morning on the trails surrounding the Dixie Convention Center.

Temperatures in the mid-30s at race time didn't slow down the runners, as the first runner across the finish line in the half-marathon was Eric Nelson, with a time of 1:09:18.

Nelson, from Nibley, Utah, ran as part of the Hobbyjogger Project team along with third-place finisher Mark Summers.

"We were looking for a half-marathon around January," Nelson said. "Me and Mark are running (the Boston Marathon) in April and wanted to do a little test of fitness to see where we're at."

Eric Nelson streaks for the finish line to win the 2022 St. George Half-Marathon.
Eric Nelson streaks for the finish line to win the 2022 St. George Half-Marathon.

The Hobbyjogger Project is a group out of Logan, originally founded in 2016 as a way to bring top-tier high school talent together.

Nelson has one run two half-marathons and one marathon.

"I ran a lot faster than I thought I would so that's always nice," Nelson said. "I exceeded my expectations by a ton ... I came in wanting to break 1:11:00 and I came pretty close to breaking 1:09:00."

The hilly terrain was a challenge for some runners, but the views of the course are what stood out to most first-time runners.

"There's a lot of rolling hills and a lot of rolling hills," said Summers, who crossed the finish line at the 1:10:27 mark. "It feels like a 13-mile cross country race. It keeps you on your toes. You can't fall asleep. You have to stay aware and stay sharp and pay attention."

Summers won the last event in 2020. Last year's event was canceled due to COVID-19.

"It's a beautiful course as always and it was good temperatures and it's nice to be able to race down here in the wintertime," said Salt Lake native Nathan Peters, who placed second overall in a time of 1:09:43. Peters has run the St. George Half-Marathon a handful of times and tries to make it an annual trek.

Jackie Hendrickson was the first female across the line on the day with a time of 1:20:19.

"I don't like to make placement my first goal because you don't know who's going to show up but that was one of my goals to win if possible so it feels good," said Hendrickson.

Hendrickson said her time goal was under 1:20:00 and she finished just 19 seconds off that pace.

Hendrickson ran the course one time back in high school and ran collegiately at Utah State.

Carolyn Williams (left) and Jackie Hendrickson (right) were the top two female finishers at the 2022 St. George Half-Marathon.
Carolyn Williams (left) and Jackie Hendrickson (right) were the top two female finishers at the 2022 St. George Half-Marathon.

"Most of the courses in Utah are point-to-point downhill, and this one is you start where you finish with hills in the middle so it's more than just speed," she said. "You have to have some strength and grit to be able to get through it as well."

The tough course for Hendrickson is a good way to start a goal of hers to qualify for the Olympic marathon trials.

To qualify for the Olympic marathon trials, runners have to race on a qualifying course in under 2:37:00.

Her best time last fall was 2:43:00.

"I just need to keep whittling down my time a couple of seconds at a time so it might take a few years, but I'm okay with that," Hendrickson said.

The second female across the line was Carolyn Williams in 1:21:39.

Williams has run around 15 marathons and had never participated in the St. George Half-Marathon, moving into the St. George area last year.

"The thing about this course is that it's a spectator course," Williams said of her thoughts on the race. "You can have people watching almost the whole time, which is really fun. It's a good course."

Williams wants to run the Phoenix Marathon and has never broken three hours in a marathon race, which she says is a goal moving forward.

Sean Ellertson is a sports reporter for the St. George Spectrum & Daily News. To continue to support his work, please subscribe to The Spectrum. Follow Sean on Twitter @SeanEllertson.

This article originally appeared on St. George Spectrum & Daily News: St. George Half Marathon draws crowd for 40th-anniversary edition