* Winner: The courage and hard work that propelled Alvaro Palacios to four victories in the past 13 years in the Deseret News marathon probably saved his life earlier this month. Palacios was on what he thought was a routine training run in the mountains near Mexico City. Twelve miles into his run he tried to go through an area of whitened ash, caused by recent forest fires. But instead of quickly running through it, he sank. It was like being in quicksand, only he was in a large pocket of burning embers. Fortunately he was able to flip his body enough to roll out of the hole. Now all he had to do was run 12 miles down the mountain to safety while battling shock and second- and third-degree burns.

His mental toughness allowed him to make the journey and find a park policeman. He now faces lengthy therapy sessions and isn't sure when he'll be able to run again. For now, thanks to his determination, he'll settle for being alive.Loser: Even at first blush. getting people to quit smoking by smoking lettuce instead of tobacco did not seem like a terribly bright idea. Now we know it's not. Unfortunately a growing number of herbal substitutes for cigarettes and snuff are being sold in convenience stores, smoke shops and health food stores, directed at people trying to quit smoking. But as Dr. Michael Thun, vice president for epidemiology of the American Cancer Society told the New York Times, "You're supposed to eat your vegetables, not smoke them." Another spokesman stated "There cannot be a safe cigarette." In other words, it's not healthy to smoke regardless of what people are smoking.

* Winner: Thanks to modern technology, in this case the Internet, Ron Drake got to see his daughter Terry get married 1,000 miles away. It wasn't supposed to be that way, but Drake suffered raging chest pains just days before he was to fly to northern California to take part in the wedding at the Four Seasons Chapel in Santa Cruz, Calif. His daughter contacted a Santa Cruz Internet company, ZCO.net, and arrangements were made to have the wedding take place in cyberspace. It did, and Drake got to see it unfold on a video screen in a conference room of the cardiac wing at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. Now that's taking care of your patient.

* Winner: The third time was indeed the charm for Tom Whittaker as he scaled Mount Everest. What made the feat a unique one is that Whittaker, 49, a college instructor from Prescott, Ariz., is an amputee. His first two attempts with an artificial leg were thwarted in 1989 and 1995 by bad weather, including freak storms. This time, his own condition almost prevented him from reaching his goal as he fell ill with pulmonary edema, a swelling of blood vessels common at high altitude. That forced him to delay his climb to the summit, but it didn't cancel it. His effort serves as an inspiration to all - both those with physical impairments and those without.