Over the years, the annual Deseret News-KSL Radio road races have become nothing if not a showcase for local running stars. The Cummings-Padilla-Eyestone-Cabanillas-Palacios crowd has dominated the races. That is, until this year.
On Monday, the out-of-town gang stole the show, not to mention a couple of new cars in the process. Geir Kvernmo, who is from out of town by way of Norway, turned the 10,000-meter men's race into a bore after 11/2 miles and nearly broke Ed Eyestone's prodigious course record. Kellie Cathey, a frequent visitor from Ft. Collins, Colo., handled a talented women's field with surprising ease and set another course record. Kvernmo and Cathey each received a 1988 Hyundai Excel from Larry H. Miller for their trouble - what there was of it.The marathon was nearly the same story. Dennis Rinde, of Orangevale, Calif., won the men's race handily. His only competition came from his own brother, Dean, who was second. Utah's Kathy Matson, a mother of two from Orem who has quietly become Utah's top female marathoner during the past year, gave the locals their first win, winning the women's marathon by a margin of several miles.
Routs were the order of the day. Kvernmo won by more than a minute, Cathey by more than 11/2 minutes, Rinde by 41/2 minutes and Matson by a staggering 23 minutes.
And where were Utah's other top road racers?
The men's 10K was thrown wide open when Olympians Ed Eyestone and Paul Cummings, the 1986 and '87 champions, respectively, decided to skip the race - Eyestone to prepare for the Olympics and Cummings because of a chronic condition in his calf muscles. Henry Marsh and Doug Padilla also passed after finishing a difficult week at the Olympic trials. Paul Pilkington, an Ogden schoolteacher, was the lone returning former champion. He ran a fine race, clocking 29:03, but was relegated to third place.
Even Eyestone and Cummings would have been hard-pressed to beat Kvernmo, who, lacking competition, still ran a solo 27:43 - just four seconds off Eyestone's record. It was the first time a non-Utahn has won the men's 10K race.
On the other hand, no Utahn has won the women's 10K since its inception in 1984. Cathey won the race and the car for the second consecutive year, this time in a course record of 31:50. Pam Witt, the Salt Lake Classic champ, was the top Utah finisher, at fourth, followed by two more Utahns, Cheryl Harper in fifth and Kelly Watkins in sixth.
The men's marathon race became wide open with the absences of Demetrio Cabanillas and Alvaro Palacios, two transplanted Utahns who have dominated the race in recent years. Palacios has been injured all summer and unable to train. Cabanillas, the nine-time marathon champion, elected to run in the 10K, which, considering his 11th-place finish, might have been a mistake.
But even Cabanillas might have had his hands full with Rinde (Dennis, that is) in the marathon. Rinde, despite his initial fear of the mountainous course and the altitude, ran 2:22:35 in his first attempt at the race. Salt Lake's Creighton King, another ex-champ, has been preoccupied with raising a family and attending school to train heavily, but he entered Monday's race and produced a creditable third-place finish with a time of 2:27:52.
It was a similar story in the women's marathon. Carolyn Ostler, a three-time winner, has been injured and unable to train consistently during much of the past couple of years. Jane Wipf, the race record holder and a two-time champion from Logan, has moved to Alaska, married a professional fisherman and given up competitive running.
That left Matson to run alone - or with the men. She ran 2:52.26, the third fastest ever behind Wipf's 2:45:35 and Robin Lockwood's 2:47:37.
If routs were the theme of the day, so was speed. The times by Kvernmo and Cathey will rank among the fastest road performances of 1988. They are further proof of the course's quickness. The flip side is that it can take a week or two to recover from the pounding that legs take on this predominantly downhill course, which is why Eyestone resisted the lure of a new car and decided to save himself for Seoul. A race between Kvernmo and Eyestone would have been interesting to say the least. But they probably won't meet until Oct. 2 - in the Olympic marathon.