The road racing season will hit its peak during the next three months, so it's only fitting now that we print Utah's all-time best road-racing performances, back for the second consecutive year.
The lists are the considerable work of Salt Lake's Finn Hansen, The Athletic Congress' state record keeeper and local running afficionado. What you see here in the Deseret News is only a small portion of what Hansen has completed. He has compiled all-time marks 50 names deep for 5,000 meters, 8,000 meters, 10,000 meters, 15,000 meters, 5 miles, 10 miles, 15 miles, 20 miles, the half-marathon and the marathon; he has compiled the top 10 or 25 (depending on the popularity of the distance) performances in each age group; he has compiled the best marks for 1988; and he has compiled a list of the yearly winners in all of Utah's major road races. All of which totals hundreds of pages. For a small fee, Hansen will provide copies of any of the records to runners upon request."This will give runners a target to shoot at," says Hansen. "They might not be able to be the best in their age group, but maybe they can make the top 25 or the top 10."
Note that many of Utah's road races have downhill courses that exceed TAC's allowable limit for record purposes. This can hardly be helped in a mountainous state. ("We're famous for our downhill courses," says Hansen.) The altitude factor probably makes up for some of the advantage of the downhill courses. Nevertheless, for record purposes, many of the performances are marked with an asterisk.
All of which makes one performance stand above the rest - Ed Eyestone's record 13:52 for 5,000 meters, set on a flat loop course in Liberty Park in the 1986 Salt Lake Classic, at altitude. It was a short-lived world road racing record; it could stand as a state record for years.
Eyestone, who was voted the top road racer in the country last year by Runner's World and Track & Field News, also owns the state 10,000-meter record, 27:40, set on the downhill Deseret News course in 1986.
A further study of the state record lists reveals what might be the runner of the future - Lynette Petersen, a Riverton resident who has been moving gradually up through age group competition for several years. In last year's Governor's Cup 5,000-meter race, she clocked 18:54 - at the age of 13. That's the 32nd best time ever in Utah, at any age, and the 14th fastest on a flat course.
Another point of interest about the lists: note how few runners cracked the marathon list in 1988. Perhaps the performances reflect the declining interest in marathoning in recent years. People are leaning toward the shorter races - particularly the 10K and 5K - as well as biking, mountain racing, triathlons, ride and ties and other aerobic sports.
As a result, many of Utah's standard road races have died: Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Streak, Nordstrom . . . . The marathons have been pared down to two, the Deseret News and St. George - while marathons such as the Golden Spike and the Great Salt Lake have long since passed away.
Some races have become institutions, and they seem bound to stay around: the Salt Lake Classic, the Freedom Festival, Park City, St. George, Deseret News.
This is a special year for the Deseret News Marathon, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. It was the state's first marathon and it has outlived all the others. Although the course overall is downhill, its steep climb over little mountain and its leg-pounding descent through Emigration Canyon make it one of the biggest challenges on the Utah road racing scene. Only one man, Demetrio Cabanillas, has ever broken 2:20 on the course. His solo 2:16:58 effort in the 1986 Deseret News race must be considered one of the finest performances on Utah roads. It is a record that might never be broken. Jane Wipf's solo 2:45:35 in 1980 and Robin Lockwood's 2:47:37 in 1983 are nearly as prodigious. They've certainly given the state's top runners distance targets to shoot for.