With the 1988 road-racing season about to begin in earnest, it seems only appropriate that we set a few standards, a few goals to set your sights on. Thus, here is a listing of the all-time top road-running marks established on Utah soil.
This prodigious work is the result of one man's hobby. Finn Hansen, The Athletic Congress state record keeper/certifier and all-around running aficionado, has been researching these lists for a couple of years. "My wife says I lived on the computer," he says.What you see here is actually only a small part of Hansen's work. He also has compiled lists (many of them 50 names deep) for age-group records and the annual winners of the state's major races, as well as the all-time best times at all road distances, complete with birthdates, hometowns and date of performance, for both men and women. In all, this data fills nearly 100 pages.
To pull off such a task, Hansen researched newspaper clips, dug through old Deseret News and St. George marathon records and pestered the National Running Date Center in Tucson (before it closed its doors).
Before you scan the lists, there are a few things you should know:
1 The list is complete only through 1987 (no 1988 results have been tabulated yet).
2 Many of the times you see have been rounded up. This is because the original times did not include tenths of a second, in which case, Hansen says, the time must be rounded up. For instance, the 2:15:16 marathon times listed for both Paul Cummings and Criss James were originally 2:15:15.
3 The lists include only times performed on certified courses. This eliminated a great number of performances, but it's necessary since many uncertified courses are found to be too short or too long. "For record consideration or as qualifiying marks, the coursses have to be certified," says Hansen.
You also will note that most of the listed times were produced in the past two years. That's because, according to Hansen, few courses were TAC-certified until then, most notably the St. George and Deseret News marathon courses.
Hansen is the first to admit that the compilation is far from complete. "Some results are missing, and some were done on courses that weren't certified," says Hansen. "I have a standing invitation to race directors to report times to me." Hansen also invites anyone to inform him of other certified performances that qualify for the list. "Let's let people see the list and shoot it down if they can," he says.
Another note: The Deseret News-KSL 10,000-meter run and the St. George Marathon dominate their respective lists for one simple reason both are run on point-to-point courses that are largely downhill. The St. George course is estimated to be worth an additional eight minutes to marathoners; the Deseret News course is worth about one minute.
Hansen says there has been considerable grumbling in TAC circles about the St. George Marathon, particularly in light of the large number of Olympic trials qualifying marks it has produced, not to mention Gail Scott's superb master's record. So far nothing has come of the grumbling.
"There are some feelings about downhill courses," says Hansen, who heard much of the talk at a TAC convention. "But there are a number of other considerations here. You've got to cut slack for altitude they give altitude adjustments now for track races. Also, under the guidelines I've seen proposed for downhill courses, Boston would be in jeopardy, too. It would have too much downhill in it." And Boston is hallowed ground in the running world.
The downhill notwithstanding, the St. George and Deseret News races have produced some impressive marks. Scott, a resident of Durango, Colo., clocked her 2:37:13 at St. George last October at the age of 41. Both Cummings and James were unpressed when they ran 2:15:16. There is little doubt Cummings, who has run 2:11:31 at sea level, could run much faster in a Utah marathon.
But perhaps the most impressive marathon ever run in the state was Demetrio Cabanillas' 2:16:58, which was run on the mountainous Deseret News course a course on which no one, aside from Cabanillas, has even broken 2:20. Similarly, Jane Wipf's 2:45:36 is an equally impressive mark, considering she produced it on the Deseret News course and was never pushed.
And then there is Ed Eyestone, who owns the fastest times ever run in Utah for both the 5K and 10K (a fact that shouldn't be surprising for a man who has ranked first and second the last two years, respectively, among American road racers). Eyestone's 5K mark of 13:52, which was run in the '86 Salt Lake Classic on a flat surface around Liberty Park, was a world road-racing record (albeit for only one week). Eyestone's 10K mark of 27:40 was run on the downhill Deseret News course, but as Hansen makes a point of saying, it is still a superior mark.