SALT LAKE CITY — As soon as he discovered that he would be wearing bib No. 1 in the Deseret News Marathon, Kenyan runner Edward Kiptum took it as a sign.
Kiptum thought possessing that bib number spelled out exactly what he needed to do in the race and where he needed to finish.
"I saw I was No. 1 and I had to stay with it," Kiptum said.
Kiptum did an excellent job in living up to that top billing. After getting gapped by fellow Kenyan Peter Omae on mile 23 of the marathon, he caught and passed Omae in dramatic fashion on the final stretch at Liberty Park and finished in 2:20:47.8 to claim victory on Saturday morning.
Omae finished just 4.5 seconds behind Kiptum, crossing the line in 2:20:51.3, to finish second.
Once he saw he had a chance to close in on Omae, Kiptum worked to get himself back into a position where he could challenge him.
"I really pushed myself from mile 24 to mile 26," said Kiptum, who previously finished third in the 2008 Deseret News Marathon.
Omae felt disappointed with surrendering his lead over the final few yards. He never expected Kiptum to make a final push and when it happened, he did not see him closing in until it was too late to hold him off.
"When I opened the gap at 23 miles, I (thought) this guy would die," Omae said.
Omae said that he misjudged the toll the course would take on him down the stretch — a mistake he promises not to make again.
"The course was a very hard course, especially going down instead of up," Omae said. "You go down. You go up. You go down. You go up. It's very hard."
Baton Rouge resident Matthew Manning was the top American finisher after crossing the line in 2:35:15.7 for fourth place. Corbin Talley was the top Utahn after placing fifth overall with a time of 2:38:23.4.
For Manning, it was his first time competing in the Deseret News Marathon. He has run in marathons for 10 years now — including the Boston Marathon three separate times. The course starting in Emigration Canyon and ending in Liberty Park offered an unexpected set of challenges with continual downhill slopes.
"It was a lot tougher than I expected," Manning said. "Looking at the course profile, I expected to be 10 minutes faster. It's definitely deceiving."
Talley, who coaches the track and field team at Davis High, originally signed up for the 10K until making a last minute switch to the marathon on Friday night.
Before Saturday, Talley had not competed in a marathon in four years. He wasn't totally convinced he had made the right decision after switching from the 10K race in which he originally trained to run.
"I couldn't sleep because I was so nervous," Talley said. "I couldn't sleep at all last night."
Talley felt nothing but jubilation after crossing the finish line. He drew inspiration from seeing his wife Stefanie win the 2010 Ogden Marathon and said her accomplishment helped him battle through the course to get a positive result.
"I hadn't run enough long runs, so I could feel it at the end," Talley said. "The last couple of miles were tough, but I hung in there and just gritted it out."
Another thing that helped was competing in a 100-mile race last September which, Talley said, prepared him for the rigors of a marathon because it taught him some mental toughness.
"26 is hard, but 100 is hard for a long time," Talley said.
2010 Pioneer Day winners
Men's marathon: Edward Kiptum
Women's marathon: Jenn Shelton
Men's 10K: Alene Reta
Women's 10K: Teyba Naser