David Roche and Megan Deakins celebrate after Deakins crossed the finish line of Saturday s Jupiter Peak Steeplechase with a course-record time of
David Roche and Megan Deakins celebrate after Deakins crossed the finish line of Saturday s Jupiter Peak Steeplechase with a course-record time of 2:02:58.1. (Gabriella Santos/Park Record)

Most couples would be running around making last-minute preparations and setting up seating charts two weeks before a wedding.

David Roche and Megan Deakins were running up Jupiter Peak and setting course records two weeks before their wedding.

The duo from Sunnyvale, California, made history in the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase on Saturday morning, shattering the previous best times for both men and women. Roche finished the 16-mile race in 1 hour, 44 minutes, .2 seconds, breaking the course record by a whopping 51 seconds. Deakins crossed the line in 2:02:58.1 to set the women's record.

Roche said coming up to the mountains made this race a lot more difficult for him.

"I'm from sea level, so a lot of it was stepping into the unknown a little bit," he said. "Basically, I survived the up as best I could and then let it fly on the down."

The downhill portion of the race is where he made up his time and what made the race more exciting, he added.

"That's kind of what's going through your head the whole time down - 'Whee!'" he said. "The last half was really fun."

Roche credited second-place finisher Nathan Peters with pushing him the whole day. Peters was named "King of the Mountain" for being the first male to make it over the top of Jupiter Peak. Peters finished with a time of 1:47:04.6.

"Me and the second-place runner took it out on the climb," Roche said. "He's one of the best climbers I've ever seen."

That's no small praise, coming from Roche.


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Roche and Deakins will celebrate their honeymoon in Italy, where they'll compete in the World Mountain Running Championships in Casetta di Massa as part of Team USA.

"We're the only non-professionals to qualify for the team," Roche said. "We're getting married in two weeks and our honeymoon is going to be in Italy wearing red, white and blue."

Deakins added that she and Roche can't wait to see what the trails in Italy are like.

"We're looking forward to it," she said.

David Roche approaches the finish line of the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase on Saturday. (Gabriella Santos/Park Record)
David Roche approaches the finish line of the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase on Saturday. (Gabriella Santos/Park Record)
"I played field hockey in college and ran track, but this is our first time on the trail series and we love it."

She also said they enjoyed their first time in Utah and will definitely be back to compete again.

"We love the whole area," she said. "The conditions were pretty good - it was dry out there, the weather was nice, it wasn't too hot and it was nice and sunny out. It was just a fun day overall."

Those ideal conditions led to a record-breaking performance.

"There was really great competition, so I think that we were all fairly close and we all pushed each other," Deakins said. "That always helps when you know the competition is right on your back. [The altitude] was a little painful, but I actually raced [the] Leadville [Trail 100 Run in Colorado] earlier this summer, so I was kind of familiar with that pain. But the pain kind of gets better as you go - it's like you're acclimating as you go."

Roche said the scenery helped keep him distracted from any pain he was feeling.

"It's so beautiful here," he said. "I found myself dazing out a little bit, in a good way, on the uphill. It's just so empowering to be in the mountains like that, especially coming from sea level. You feel so small. There's nothing quite like feeling small to go outside yourself and run really well."

Mountain Trails Foundation Executive Director Charlie Sturgis said excellent trail conditions caused by recent rain also helped with the record-breaking times.

Blake Bennion, from Alta, nurses an injury after falling in the final mile of the Jupiter Steeplechase. Bennion finished eighth overall with a time of
Blake Bennion, from Alta, nurses an injury after falling in the final mile of the Jupiter Steeplechase. Bennion finished eighth overall with a time of 2:02:49.5. (Gabriella Santos/Park Record)

"We did actually shorten the course by about 150 yards," he said. "But these guys are still beating course records. [The rain earlier in the week] made it unbelievably good. These guys were psyched. There was no dust - this can be a complete dustfest sometimes, which makes for unsure footing, especially on some of the scramblier stuff. With everything sort of pasted in place, it makes it pretty nice."

The shorter course didn't necessarily help Deakins, who said she made a couple wrong turns and added about a mile to her run.

"It was kind of my own fault," she said. "We scouted the course yesterday and I made the same wrong turn today as I did yesterday. It's just, when you're tired, it's easier to do that. The course was marked pretty well, it's just stupidity on my own part."

Many runners, including Deakins, came across the finish line battered and bruised from taking spills during the race.

"The nature of the course is that you run really hard on the way up and then you hammer on the way down," she said. "Because you're pretty tired and pretty lactic from the way up, you start to lose concentration on the way down. If there's a slight bump in the road, you're taking a spill."

But, despite falling and taking a wrong turn, Deakins said the race was a really fun event.

"We'll have to come back," she said. "We loved it."

"If we ever have a choice of where we live, it'll be Utah," Roche added.

Peters finished second in the men's overall race with a time of 1:47:04.6. Ryan Woods place third, crossing the line in 1:50:10.2.

Sarah Kjorstad finished second in the women's overall race, turning in a time of 2:05:11.4. Megan Kimmel took third in 2:05:58.9.

For full results from Saturday's Jupiter Peak Steeplechase, please see the Scoreboard section on pages B-4 and B-5.