August 23, 2014

2014 Top of Utah Half Marathon

Photo from

2014 Top of Utah Half Marathon - 1:07:37 - 1st Place

I've said this before, but I love running the Top of Utah races! The courses are great, the competition is excellent, and the races are always very well-organized. After a hiatus of nearly four months from racing, it felt great to break the tape today at the TOU 1/2. This is the second time in three years that I've won this race.
Here's a shortened version of my FRB race report (that link has some more details / splits / wolf tattoo discussion) and some snippets from a local newspaper article follow at the bottom of this post.

My goals for this year's TOU 1/2 were:

1. Win
2. Finish the race strong
3. Continue to build overall momentum with my running

I'm not at the fitness level I've brought into this race previously (recent training summary), so I ignored the splits being spit out by my watch, and focused on running a smart race that would put me in position to accomplish all of the above goals.

Going down the canyon, I hung back to see who else would take the initiative. Jason led the early miles, while Fritz and Steve eventually moved up to him. According to the timing mat I was 17 seconds back of those guys at seven miles. I wasn't sure how I felt - not great, but not bad either. Then it seemed like Steve moved even further ahead and had a good sized lead on everyone. At the nine mile mark I was probably almost 30 seconds off the lead and needed to get moving. I passed Jason during the 10th mile, then Fritz during the 11th, and finally got Steve at the top of the Millville hill in mile 12. I had a good amount left in the legs and was able to stretch the lead out to a comfortable margin. It felt good to break the tape.

Obviously the time was a lot slower than I've run here in the past, but I'm not reading anything into that. For where I'm at right now, I got everything I wanted out of this race. One positive that sticks out is my attitude over the final miles. I had the chance (and contemplated taking it for a few minutes) to cruise in and use excuses like "it's your first race in a while" and "you've got a lot of miles under your legs recently" but instead I told myself "go get everyone" and I ran the last 3-4 miles exactly as I planned. I also remembered around that time that I had already spent the prize money on Thursday (another set of Dynafit bindings) so I had better win it back!
Jake Krong loves running in Cache Valley.
In fact, the Salt Lake City resident referred to the Top of Utah Half Marathon “definitely my favorite half marathon.” 
It’s hard to think Krong will change his mind as long as he keeps shining at one of the state’s most popular half marathons.
For the second time in four years, Krong reigned supreme at the TOU Half, which concluded Saturday at Zollinger Park. The 30-year-old came from behind to edge Steve Shepherd by 12 seconds. Krong covered the 13.1-mile course, which starts at the Hyrum Hydro Park up Blacksmith Fork Canyon, in 1 hour, 7 minutes, 37 seconds. 
“It’s my slowest time on the course, but I kind of knew that coming in that I was really just trying to run for the win today,” Krong said. “I kind of hit a low point in my training in May in June and had to take a little time off, and then I’ve been building back up. So, I knew I wasn’t as sharp as I’ve typically been. This is my first race in almost four months ... so it feels good to beat some quality runners, and I feel good about this moving forward to the fall marathons.”
Krong was unable to challenge his personal-best time of 1:05:39 on this course but, considering the time he took off, was pleased with his performance. The champion of the 2012 Top of Utah Marathon, who is currently training for the Chicago Marathon, actually trailed Shepherd, Fritz Van De Kamp and Jason Holt by 20-30 seconds for much of the first half of the course. 
“I didn’t worry about my watch today and just tried to catch guy by guy,” said Krong, who finished with a 5:08-per-mile clip. “And even with about four miles to go, Steve still had probably 25 seconds on me, so I really had to boogie up the Millville hill to catch him. And I finally took the lead in the last mile and ran just under five minutes for the last mile to win it.”
Cache Valley

Top 4 Men


  1. Awesome job Jake - even though we're nowhere near the same league, you really inspire and challenge me! TOU was my first BQ so it also holds fond memories for me. And frame that finish line photo, I haven't seen many better ones. Congrats again!

  2. Congratulations on your win!!! Smart way to race and surely great uplift for your mind! :)

  3. The picture of Cache Valley looks remarkably identical to the Salt Lake Valley....

    1. Good catch - this is why I shouldn't post at night when I'm tired. Thanks for the editing :-)