One of last year's most memorable images from the Park City Marathon was that of Michael Porter approaching the finish line flanked by his two sons, Matt and Nathan.
For Porter, who has run the Park City Marathon every year since it started 18 years ago, sharing that moment with his sons was special. But, he recalled, it almost didn't happen.
"It was a really strange event," he said. "[Matt] darted out of the start as fast as can be, but he got lost on the track. So, at about Mile 18, I think, he got misdirected and had to backtrack. Nathan and I were pretty close and we all met up at Mile 20.
"Then I locked up, my legs, first time it's ever happened. So they waited for me as I hobbled across the finish line."
This year, Porter was on his own as Matt was unable to participate, but still attended the race to cheer on his dad.
"An injury kept me out this year, but I'll be back next year," he said.
Porter crossed the finish line in 4 hours, 44 minutes and 48.8 seconds this year. After doing most of his training in San Diego, where he works, the Alpine, Utah, resident said he was noticeably slower up in the mountains.
"I live in Alpine, but I'm working in San Diego, so I commute every other week," he said. "I spend most of my time and training in San Diego, so I did notice a difference in the altitude. I was going about a minute slower per mile than I normally do during my training.
Porter said he didn't mind the slower time he doesn't necessarily run these marathons to reach a certain time barrier.
"He just likes to eat his ice cream every night," Christine Porter, Michael's wife, laughed.
"I do like my ice cream," Porter agreed. "This is sort of to keep it in check and to stay healthy. When I'm running and healthy all year long, I'm happy and more productive."
When asked if he'd return in 2015 to claim his 19th Park City Marathon medal, Porter said he certainly plans to be back to run the scenic Park City course.
"Across the world, they know how beautiful Park City is the course, the people, the architecture, the destination that it is," he said. "This year, it was exceptionally green, I noticed. It's just fabulous to be here I'll be back next year."
Park City's Danny Connolly, another marathon regular, finished fifth overall, turning in a time of 3:00:05.0. Though he was a little disappointed in his time, he said he really enjoys supporting the Mountain Trails Foundation.
"It comes down to I like to support them with everything I buy raffle tickets, I'll do the donation stuff and also the entry fees," he said. "I think it's great they maintain the trails so we can do this kind of stuff. My wife mountain bikes, so she's in on all the trail stuff, too. We just think it's really cool that they do this. As long as we live here, I'll probably do it every year I'll be in town anyway, so might as well do it."
Next year, though, he hopes to be able to turn in a faster time. The weather conditions got to him this year, he admitted.
"This year's race, there was no cloud coverage, so I think that sun got me a little bit the second half," he said. "I had a great first half and I was with everyone, but they were able to break away.
"It is what it is. To not even get under three [hours] was a little frustrating. I was hoping to get 2:51 again or whatever, but I didn't push too hard during that second half."
Connolly added that this year's event was even bigger than last year's, a trend he's noticed the past few years.
"I've seen it get bigger every year not only more competitive, but more tents, more of a showing, more of a crowd," he said. "There were more spectators along the course this year."
Jason Howe of Salt Lake City finished first overall with a time of 2:42:39.2. Five minutes later, Gary Krugger of Flagstaff, Arizona, crossed the line in second place. Park City High School cross country coach Steve Cuttitta claimed third place with a time of 2:52:11.2 and Park City's Sebe Ziesler finished fourth in 2:56:19.9.
Kristi Rossi of Hillsborough, California, won the women's marathon with a time of 3:12:22.5. Kimberly Cowart of South Jordan, Utah, finished second (3:13:58.5) and Marti Schuham of Winnetka, Illinois, took third place in 3:18:50.3.
Next up for Porter is a full Ironman competition in Florida in November. He said he's excited for the new challenge.
"It'll be my first time," he said. "I've done a half Ironman, but this will be my first full. It's a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a full marathon. I'm using this [the Park City Marathon] to train for that."
For Connolly, the next challenge will be the Mid-Mountain Marathon, the last of the three Triple Trail Challenge events. Connolly is a repeat Triple Trail Challenge winner and would like to make it a three-peat in 2014.
"I keep saying, 'Oh, maybe I won't do it this year,' but it all comes down to that Triple Trail Challenge," he said. "I love doing that. I'm defending it this year for three in a row and I'm looking forward to it."
He's not exactly sure where he stands in the TTC rankings at the moment, but he's confident in his chances to claim the title again at the Mid-Mountain Marathon in September.
"A few guys were faster than me at this event, but I don't think they're in on that [the TTC]," he said. "So I think I'll still have a shot at it this year. We'll see at Mid-Mountain."
For full results from Saturday's Park City Marathon and Half Marathon, please see the Scoreboard section beginning on page B-4 and continuing to page B-5.