NewsTrack and Field

American Marathoner Conner Mantz: A Runner’s Journey From Utah to Paris

by Conner Mantz

Conner Mantz celebrates after placing first and qualifying for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 during the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon on Feb. 03, 2024 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Getty Images)

After crossing the finish line first at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Marathon — just ahead of my BYU teammate, Clayton Young, and seeing my BYU coach, Ed Eyestone, at the finish — I reflected on my career.


When I think back, my connection to Utah is a thread that is woven throughout my story. The state and its people characters taking center stage alongside me as I’ve ventured on my athletic career.


With its towering mountains and supportive communities, Utah has been an integral part of my life. From my high school days at Sky View to my time at Brigham Young University, the cheers from the sidelines and the genuine excitement for our races were a constant source of motivation.


If you were to look at a reel of my life it would be filled with memories from the Beehive State: meeting my wife at BYU and then marrying her in the same city where we met being one of the highlights.


Over the years I’ve learned that representing Utah isn't just about donning the state's name in my bio; it's about carrying the spirit of the community with me on every run. The bond between the people of Utah and their athletes is unique and special, something that sets this state apart.


It can be seen looking back at the Olympic Trials before the Olympic Games, held in Los Angeles in 1984. Athletes from BYU claimed victory in the 3K steeplechase, 5K and 10K. It can be seen in footage of the Olympic Games Salt Lake City 2002 where there was an overwhelming sense of community for athletes in general.


All of these accomplishments further solidified the rich history of support for runners and athletes in Utah.


With its diverse landscapes and warm-hearted people, Utah has become an integral part of my identity. The love for the mountains, the peaceful towns, and the genuine support from the community are irreplaceable.


It's not just about the races; it's about the sense of community, the shared enthusiasm for the sport, and the belief that every step forward is a step taken together.

Conner Mantz crosses the finish line to place first and qualify for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 during the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon on Feb. 03, 2024 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Getty Images)

The state of Utah has not only been the backdrop for my journey but also a crucial pillar of support. The community's unwavering encouragement is one of the things that has propelled me forward.


The state's commitment to stepping in where sponsorships may fall short, and providing access to facilities and physical therapists, reflects a genuine desire to see its athletes succeed.


The feedback from the Utah community following my Olympic trials qualification has been overwhelming. From casual encounters in restaurants and in the grocery stores to meetings with state officials, the support has been heartfelt.


The recognition from the community, the genuine excitement from locals, and the pride in being associated with Utah have fueled my motivation to give back.


Giving back to Utah is not just a responsibility; it's a heartfelt commitment. I do my best, whether it’s speaking at high schools or talking to elementary school students about goal setting or teamwork, my involvement extends beyond the tracks and fields. The support from Utah is a collective effort to uplift its athletes and foster a culture of success.


As I look ahead to the Paris Olympics, the focus remains on the training and preparation that will shape my performance on the global stage. The support from Utah continues to play a crucial role, with the state's backing ensuring that I have the resources needed to compete at my best.


I remind myself that the pride in representing Utah is not just a jersey, but a symbol of the shared journey that I have been on for the past 27 years.


Post-Olympics, while the allure of the Eiffel Tower and the historic landmarks in Paris is enticing, my heart remains rooted in the mountains of Utah.


The post-race plans include not just celebrations but a hike with my wife up Mount Timpanogos, a 14-mile journey near Provo. It is something that the two of us have always wanted to tackle together, another reminder that while the world may celebrate the athlete, the journey is a collective effort, a shared victory for Utah and its people.


With its unmatched beauty and unwavering support, Utah has been my silent companion in every stride of my journey. From the nervous nights before crucial races to the jubilant moments of Olympic qualification, the state has been a constant presence, shaping my identity as a runner and as a person.


As I embark on the road to Paris, I carry the spirit of Utah with me, grateful for the journey that started in the small town of Logan and led to the grand stages of the world.


As told to freelance writer, Lisa Costantini

Post-Olympics, while the allure of the Eiffel Tower and the historic landmarks in Paris is enticing, my heart remains rooted in the mountains of Utah.
Conner Mantz smiling and holding an American flag
Conner Mantz, Marathon
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