SALT LAKE CITY — Before most people were enjoying their morning coffee, Ethiopia native Teyba Naser was putting together a dominant 10K race. She paced herself at the back of the pack for two miles, accelerated through the third to take the lead, and then easily outdistanced the competition to earn $1,500 for her effort.
And she did it all before 7 a.m.
Every year there seems to be a different face at the front of the pack at the Deseret News women's 10K, and Naser is no different, winning her first time out. Since 2004, there has only been one repeat winner and for most champions, it's been one and done.
Naser, who moved to Albuquerque to race and train two years ago, was competing in Utah for the first time, and says she is going to use her winnings to "train harder." She does intend to return to defend her win next year.
"It's a nice course — a good course," Naser said. "I like it for me."
Naser passed Utahn Lindsey Dunkley just before the three-mile mark and never faltered to register a blazing 31:40.5. Naser's overall time correlates to mile splits of 5:06, but the runner got continuously faster as the race progressed.
"I stayed in the back until after mile two," Naser said. "Two miles in the back, and then I decide I'm going and I took off."
Dunkley, a former BYU athlete who has been one of the only consistent competitors at the front of the pack the past few years — finishing second in the 2008 race and fourth last year, was nearly 40 seconds behind, but ran her course-best with a time of 32:19.6. Dunkley's time would have easily placed her in first place four out of the last five years.
"I'm thrilled with second. I really, really am," Dunkley said. "You never really know who is going to arrive to compete, so I'm happy with my time and place."
As the fastest Utahn, Dunkley receives $500 to go along with the $750 she was awarded for finishing second overall.
Dunkley is running the fastest times of her career, but is toying with the idea of going out on top and retiring at the end of the season. The mother of three (Hunter, 10, Ryker, 6, and Tyler, 3) says balancing her race schedule with her children's activity schedules is getting difficult.
"It's getting hard to plan around all our events," Dunkley said. "With three kids in the summer — baseball, T-ball, basketball, soccer — it gets to be hectic. I may not (retire), though. I'm just playing around with the idea right now."
Ethiopian Atalalelech Asfaw (32:45.1), Everlyne Lagat (33:12.5), the sister of world champion runner Bernard Lagat, and former Weber State star Jamie Pilkington (34:22.0) rounded out the top five, while Ogden's Anna Judd beat her time from last year by over 20 seconds to win the women's masters division (40 and older) with a time of 37:43.6.