At every mile marker during the 13.1 miles that runners make their way from Grover to Bedford and to Thayne, there is a picture of Jeremy Kunz urging them to keep a smile and have some fun.
It was his infectious love of family and community that came through his running that spawned the Star Valley Half-Marathon after his tragic death in 2009 and it is those same characteristics that have drawn hundreds of people to the event which completed its fourth running on Saturday.
Trevor Ricks won his second Star Valley Half in a time of 1:13:47, nearly five minutes in front of his closest competitor. Ricks won the 2nd annual race as well. He and Gray Augustus of Ammon, Idaho have each won the men’s division twice. Ricks is currently entering his senior season running for Weber State University after a standout career at Star Valley High School.
Incoming SVHS senior, Hannah Demler, set a new course record for the women’s division, breaking the 1:30 barrier for a time of 1:29:33.
“I was happy with my time,” she said. “My coaches had been talking to me about breaking the course record so I wanted to try and be around an hour and a half. I think I kept up a pretty good pace. About mile 8, I slipped down a little bit but I feel like I picked up the pace in the last two miles.”
Demler is one half of twins with brother Nic running for the Braves. She admits it’s nice to be able to run with him to push herself. She also felt like the race wasn’t over until she crossed the finish line.
“I actually was pretty worried,” she said. “People kept telling me she wasn’t too far behind and Erin was gonna come and get me so I didn’t think it was over until I finished.”
Demler will anchor the Lady Braves cross-country team this fall and is running between seven and nine miles per day to reach her goals. Although the half-marathon is a bit different than her usual races.
“It has a lot of pavement,” she added. “I usually don’t have that much pavement. It’s a really fun course and it’s always pretty. I like the atmosphere. I like people cheering and it’s a great cause with all the proceeds going to good causes. It’s a really good way to express that.”
The women’s division was close with 2012 winner and former course record holder, Erin Henderson, and 2013 winner, Heather Thompson close behind.
The 4th annual race also saw Vance Gerkovich complete the course in his hand cycle in a blistering time of 48:41.
378 runners completed the course which was professionally timed by Vector Timing and sanctioned by U.S.A. Track & Field. Find full results by clicking here.