In 2012 Fritz Van de Kamp virtually was unbeatable on the local running scene, winning the Salt Lake City, Ogden and St. George marathons as well as several others.
Now, in 2014, it looks like the running phenom is back and ready to dominate again.
On- and off-road dominance
Fritz Van de Kamp’s major wins since 2010:
2011 » Ogden Marathon, 2:29:02
2012 » Salt Lake Marathon, 2:25:58
2012 » Wahsatch Steeplechase, 2:14:27
2012 » Ogden Marathon, 2:22:59
2012 » Deseret News Marathon, 2:21:58
2012 » St. George Marathon, 2:21:14
2013 » Park City Marathon, 2:39:36
2014 » Salt Lake Marathon, 2:28:18
2014 » Ogden Marathon, 2:23.34
Wasatch SteeplechaseSaturday, 6 a.m.
Details » Starts and ends in Memory Grove Park and covers 17 miles and 8,000 feet of elevation. The tricky part is the section known as “the crags,” a rocky technical area racers must negotiate before descending.
So far, Van de Kamp has won the Salt Lake and Ogden marathons and has his eye on Saturday’s Wasatch Steeplechase — a hardcore trail race over 17 miles and 8,000 vertical feet that begins and ends in Memory Grove Park. He won the race in 2012 with a record time of two hours, 14 minutes and 27 seconds.
While he is off to a strong start, Van de Kamp is keeping his expectations in check, partially because he is simply enjoying being back in the hunt after a 2013 season saw him win only one major race (the Park City marathon) after several bouts with injuries.
But true to his nature, Van de Kamp wasn’t sidelined for long. The 34-year-old — who is director of marketing analytics at overstock.com — was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his abdomen in 2007.
Van de Kamp, who continued to run during his 9 weeks of chemotherapy treatment, beat the disease and is now cancer-free.
From his perspective, things such as knee and Achilles’ tendon pain are inconvenient, but in reality small challenges when it comes to running.
"The biggest thing was not being able to do Boston [Marathon] last year," he said. "It got so bad I couldn’t run anymore."
Van de Kamp is finally feeling up to speed after several months of rest and recovery.
"I think I am back," he said. "My time in the Ogden marathon (2:23.34) was a little slower than it was two years ago when I won it, but it was a comparable performance. I’ve been pretty motivated and I think it’s paying off."
The runner’s resurgence is impressive on any level, but perhaps more so after his bout with cancer. However, Van de Kamp is quick to brush off that experience as a ‘bump in the road.’
"It sets you back and makes you think about priorities, but I am fortunate enough to have it behind me," he said.
Van de Kamp acknowledges he is uncomfortable with being some sort of role model for cancer survivors, preferring to be known simply as a great runner. To that end, he is building quite the reputation. Since 2003 he has had 15 first-place finishes in marathons, won the Ultra 50K Buffaloe Run at Antelope Island in 2012 and had second-place finishes in Ultra competitions in Malibu, California; Mill Valley, California, and Provo. B.J. Christenson, a manager at Salt Lake Running Company, said it isn’t uncommon for runners to win a handful of races in the same year because the competition can be spread out, but Van de Kamp’s ability to win both on the road and trail is a little more unusual.
"It’s definitely different running," he said. "Some people are better at climbing or descending or the technical stuff, so that can make a difference. He is definitely building a reputation."
Van de Kamp credits some of his success to his training. He doesn’t like to run all the time, so he mixes in other sports such as cycling and even using the StairMaster at his local gyms
"The thought of running every day doesn’t excite me," he said. "I know a lot of people, that is how they train, but I need to stay mentally fresh and I think it has helped me with getting over my injuries. I needed to increase my training when I was injured and it helped doing the other sports. I like to stay fit through other means and not run a ton of miles."
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