There was only one thing pushing Kathy Matson through the 26.2 miles of the Deseret News/KSL marathon Monday morning - Kathy Matson. No one was near her, no one challenged her, no one was close, which suited her just fine.

She runs, she said, better when she's alone. Monday she was that and still ended up posting the third fastest time in the 15-year history of the distance run. She clocked a time of 2 hours, 52 minutes, 26 seconds to win, which was 24 minutes better than the second woman runner across the finish, or somewhere around a three-mile lead.Second was Claire Johnson of Salt Lake City in 3:16.00 and third was Melissa Wood of Salt Lake City in 3:22.29.

Admittedly, Matson could have snoozed along the way and still won the two tickets to Hawaii, and who would have blamed her? Even she admitted she hit the runner's "wall" at 22 miles and gave up her concentration long enough to ask herself what in the world she was doing.

The marathon record was set in 1980 by Jane Wipf of 2:45.35. The second best time belonged to Robin Lockwood in 1983 of 2:47.37. In both cases there was a formidable field of runners pressing the winners.

This year there were no favorites. There were no past winners, or even past contenders. Even Matson was an unknown. This was the first time the Orem runner challenged the hilly Deseret News course.

She did, in fact, start slowly because of the warm morning temperatures and the dreaded hills in East and Emigration canyons that she'd heard so much about.

"Actually, the hills weren't bad. I'd worked on hills before the race, and today I just took it easy on the uphill. When I got to the flat I was feeling good. It was enjoyable at that point. I was able to relax and run my race.

"It helped me, though, to run alone. I'm a loner. I push myself. I'd rather run alone because I find I work harder. That's the way it was today," the mother of three said.

This was Matson's third marathon this year, and only the sixth she's ever run in. This year she won a race in Taipei, Taiwan, and was the top Utah finisher in the Pittsburgh Marathon.

Johnson, too, admitted she took it easy. Running in her 14th marathon, and familiar with the Deseret News course, she, too, took the hills cautiously and conserved her energies early in the race.

"Now," she said, "I wish I'd pushed it a little more. I feel too good. I should have run harder, but I guess you always say that when's it's over."

Wood ran what she called one of her better races. It broke her own personal record set two year ago in this event by two minutes.

It was not an easy race for her, however. It was, she said, "very difficult." She was trailing Cynthia Brockway for the third spot. She passed her at the 21-mile mark and said she had a couple of good "pick-ups there at the end that carried me to the finish."