Getting back to his roots, Fletcher drawn to trail marathons

June 5, 2017

Aaron Fletcher running

Aaron Fletcher

After a star-studded college running career at Brigham Young University in Utah, Aaron Fletcher of Anchorage was looking for something different.

The cross country and track star had dabbled in obstacle-course racing before turning back to his roots.

“Growing up as a runner/skier in Alaska you can’t escape trail running, so I had some experience and decided that I should try it out for real,” he told me. “Trail running races don’t really come shorter than a marathon, and I have been wanting to do marathons for a few months anyway so naturally I went out to try and find a trail marathon.”

It didn’t take him long to find his way to the winner’s circle.

Fletcher, of South High fame, won the Timp Trail Marathon in Utah, crossing in 3 hours, 7 minutes to break the course record by 23 minutes at the eight-year race that features 5,800 feet of climbing.

“I really wanted to get back to the basics of why I run – feeling healthy and empowered and strong, enjoying the peace and quiet in nature, and exploring the mountains,” Fletcher said. “It also turns out that I am a pretty good natural climber and technical descender on trails, so that was nice.

“I also wanted to do a race that didn’t offer prize money to take that added pressure off my back for once – I just wanted to go have fun. The Timp Trail Marathon was basically the ideal event for satisfying all those requirements, so I went for it and had a blast.”

At BYU, Fletcher was a well-decorated runner that enjoyed a huge senior season in which he won the West Coast Conference cross country championship and was an NCAA All-American in the steeplechase.

“Last summer I made the NCAA D1 finals in the steeplechase and then ended up missing the Olympic Trials by less than a second,” he said. “I gained loads of confidence that I could compete at the highest level from that, but after putting in all the work and just coming short of that goal I decided to try something new and refreshing for a while.”

He signed up for the popular Spartan obstacle-course race in Utah and qualified for Spartan Worlds.

“I trained hard and was in second place about halfway through the race, but ended up fading to 17th,” Fletcher said. “I then raced the Spartan Team championships with Matt Novakovich [of Anchorage] and a couple others and we ended up winning that event.”

Next up for Fletcher is the St. George Marathon in Utah. He will start with his father and brother, but he won’t finish with them.

After that, he will look for more ultramarathons.

“I love the trails and mountains, and I think my future is bright in that arena,” he said.