The Deseret News-KSL Radio road races on Monday may be more wide open than ever.
If there is a favorite, it's in the women's 10K. The field is headed by Kelley Cathey, the defending champion who once set an American record in the 10,000 on the track. The biggest question is can she survive three 10K races in one week. She competed in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials 10,000 in Indianapolis, which meant running a qualifying round on Monday and, the final on Friday. That gives her just two rest days before the Deseret News race.The other top women include Maureen Custy-Roben, Sue Marchiano and Kathy Pfiefer. Custy-Roben finished seventh in the Olympic marathon trials earlier this summer and produced the fastest marathon by an American woman last year.
The big question in the men's 10K is, will Ed Eyestone enter? Eyestone set the Deseret News 10K course record two years ago with a blistering time of 27:39.5. He still hasn't decided. "It's tempting," said Eyestone, the Deseret News-KSL Radio 10K course record holder. "But I'm still not sure. It will be one of those 11th-hour decisions."
It may depend on how he feels after returning Sunday from the Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. He registered for the 10K just in case he opts to run in the 6:15 a.m. race. Eyestone qualified for the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, in the marathon. He also qualified to run the 10,000 in the Trials but went to Indianapolis only as a spectator after deciding to just concentrate on the marathon at the Olympics.
If Eyestone doesn't run, then the favorite may be Geir Kvernmo, a former NCAA cross country ski champion.
Kvernmo, Norway's national record holder in the marathon (with a 2:10:17) who will represent his country in the Olympics later this summmer, has run well on the roads this year. In his most recent race, he finished fourth in the Cascade Runoff, one of the nation's biggest road races.
Kvernmo, who lives in Boulder, Colo., originally came to the U.S. to attend the University of Wyoming and to compete on the cross country ski team (he eventually won the 50K race in the NCAA Cross Country Ski Championships). He has since concentrated on running and last January claimed one of his biggest victories, in the Houston Marathon.
There appears to be few who can stop him in the Deseret News-KSL Radio race, especially now that Paul Cummings, the defending champion, has dropped out with chronic pain in his calf muscles.
In the meantime, Kvernmo's biggest rivals probably will be Don Janicki, one of the top all-around road racers in the country, as well as local runners, Demetrio Cabanillas, Paul Pilkington and Chad Bennion. Cabanillas, nine-time winner of the Deseret News marathon, is confident he can run a fast enough 10K to stay with the leaders if not win it. Pilkington, an Ogden school teacher, won the inaugural Deseret News-KSL Radio 10K five years ago and has been racing well this summer. Bennion just finished a solid running career at the University of Oregon and has been training under the guidance of Cummings.
The rest of the men's elite field includes Mark Stickley, Danny Grimes, Jim Klein, Frank Plasso and possibly Dirk Lakeman, the former national road 10K champion.
The marathon appears to be even more wide open than the 10K. According to race director Keith West, most previous champions did not sign up for it this year. With Cabanillas and perennial contender Norberto Segura opting for the 10K and Alvaro Palacios, the winner two years ago, unable to compete because of injuries, the men's favorite may be Creighton King, who won the marathon in 1983 with a time of 2 hours, 21 minutes, 9 seconds.
Cabanillas feels the man to beat in the marathon is a runner he trains with, Clayton Johnson. Johnson ran a 2:21 marathon in St. George last year.
No previous women's champions signed up, according to West, making that field the most wide-open of the four races.
The runners will be racing for cash and prizes in the Deseret News-KSL Radio races. The winners of the 10K will receive a 1988 Hyundai Excel automobile from Larry H. Miller. Second place is worth $1,000, third $600, fourth $500, fifth $350, sixth $200 and seventh $100. The marathon winners receive an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii.
The 10K will begin at 6:15 a.m. in Research Park; the marathon will begin an hour earlier in Washington Park in Parleys Canyon. Both races will finish in Liberty Park. KSL Radio (1160-AM) will broadcast the events.