When Farley Gerber won the steeplechase in record time at the 1984 NCAA track and field championships and later placed fourth in the U.S. Olympic Trials, it looked like the beginning of a long, successful career. But two years later, enticed by job opportunities and frustrated by allergies and injuries, he retired.
Now he's back.Gerber, who will turn 29 this month, resumed training last fall after a two-year layoff, but he's not sure how far his comeback will take him. "I'm going to run in some local road races, and from there I'll decide what I'll do," he says. "At this point, I can't afford to think big time. I've got too many injuries."
Gerber, whose training has been hampered in recent weeks by a pulled calf muscle, decided to return to the sport because, "I gained 15 pounds and that was bothering me. And I missed the competitiveness. Plus, during the Olympics, the American steeplechasers didn't do as well as I thought they should."
A graduate of Bingham High School and Weber State, Gerber won the NCAA steeplechase race in a meet-record time of 8:19.27, beating, among others, Julius Korir, who later that summer won the Olympic gold medal. Two years later he quit to work fulltime as a data base designer for Evans and Sutherland.
"I'm a long ways away from where I was," he says.
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James, a former Murray High School/BYU distance runner, has been selected to run on the U.S. World Cup Marathon team that will compete today in Milan, Italy. He has a career-best of 2:15:15, which he ran on the fast St. George course.
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The ever-changing Salt Lake Classic will change again this year. This year's featured event will be a 5,000-meter race around Liberty Park for Utahns only - with the winner getting $5,000.
The tentative entrants are Olympians Cummings, Eyestone, Doug Padilla, plus Gerber, Pilkington, Ashford, Jay Woods and James.
Eyestone rates the early favorite. He finished fourth overall (first among Americans) against a heavyweight field in the recent Carlsbad (Calif.) 5K road race, beating Steve Scott, Padilla and Cummings in the process.