Paul Pilkington: Mormon Athlete
Paul Pilkington is a distance runner and head coach of Weber State University’s men’s and women’s cross-country teams.
Pilkington grew up in Blackfoot, Idaho, where he was a wrestler in high school. He started running during his senior year. He ran track and field at the College of Southern Idaho, where he was a NJCAA All-American in the steeplechase. He then ran track at Weber State, where he earned All-American honors in the steeplechase from the United States Track and Field Federation. After he graduated in 1981, he began his coaching career as the head cross country coach at Ben Lomond High School in Ogden. He continued to run and at the age of 31, won the 1990 Houston Marathon, besting his previous run by four minutes. From there he was admitted into big-time races and given appearance fees. His cash winnings supplemented his teacher’s salary so that he didn’t have to take on a summer job, as many teachers do.
He was hired as the pacesetter (rabbit) for the 1994 Los Angeles Marathon, but when no one kept up with him, he went on to win the race and pocketed the $75,000 winner’s prize.
His prize winnings also helped him work toward a graduate degree, and he received his master’s degree from Utah State University in 1992.
Pilkington was a four-time Olympic Trials qualifier. In 1995 he was a member of the United States Track and Field Team representing the United States at the World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. He also has top ten finishes in marathons in London, Berlin, Moscow, Venice, San Francisco, the Twin Cities Marathon (Minneapolis, St. Paul), and Salt Lake City. Ed Eyestone has often been Pilkington’s training partner.
Prior to being named the head cross country coach at Weber State University, he had been an assistant coach for the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams for two seasons (2005 and 2006), helping the men’s and women’s teams win the Big Sky Cross Country Championship in 2006. He was also an assistant coach at Weber State from 2001 to 2003. From 2003 to 2005, he was the head cross country coach at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
In track and cross-country, Pilkington has coached eight NCAA All-Americans earning 13 All-American awards. Included in the All-American group is Lindsey Anderson, who broke the NCAA record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. She went on to make the 2007 world championships in Osaka, Japan, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the 2009 world championships in Berlin, Germany.
Pilkington is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his wife, Darby, are the parents of three children.