More than 4,000 runners are expected to take to the streets of Salt Lake City Friday morning when the annual Deseret News/Granite Furniture marathon and 10K races begin before dawn.
Marathoners will begin with a 5 a.m. start at Washington Park. At 6:15 a.m., the 10K races will begin at Research Park near the University of Utah. At 6:30 a.m., a 5K Fitness Walk will also begin at the Delta Center. All three events finish at Liberty Park, where free drinks and fresh fruit, and a large number of other activities, await participants.While most of those running in the marathon and 10K will be entered just for the fun and recreation, there are some serious contenders fighting for prize money and perhaps cash bonuses for new course records.
In the marathon, top entrants include local favorites Alvaro Palacios (a past winner) and Paul Rosser, along with Mike Carlson, fifth a year ago, and Ian Solof of Portland. As outlined earlier this week, two other entrants are coming to Salt Lake City as part of their own unique marathon campaigns. Richard Worley of Houston has been raising money for a self-named scholarship fund by running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 weeks at the age of 50. He accomplished that mark last year and has kept running ever since, having logged more than 75 marathons so far on his way to a new goal - 104 marathons by December 24th when his effort ends in Ohio. And Japanese runner Hajime Nishi has become the only marathoner to run in six such races on six different continents in five weeks, using his efforts to raise public awareness on protecting the environment.
The ladies' marathon should be a race between Orem's Cheryl Harper, past champ Patty Murray and former 10K winner and course record holder Olga Appel.
At least one 10K record could fall with strong fields in both men's and women's categories slated to go. The men's race features 15 to 20 world class runners, including Craig Young, the world's top-ranked runner over 40 years old; former Belgium Olympian Eddy Hellebuyk, Salt Lake's Larry Smithee, and a number of runners from Kenya, any of which could take home the top prize. The women's division includes defending champ Kris Ihle-Helledy of Wisconsin, Jenny Crain of Milwaukee, Floridian Kim Pawelek, Kenyan Jane Omoro and Natalie Nalepa of San Francisco.
There are wheelchair divisions in both races as well, and a large number of families are expected to take part in the second annual 5K Fitness Walk.
This year's races will also have a new twist as well - music. A variety of bands will be set up along the race route, according to assistant race director Lauren Graham. Sounds ranging from African drummers at Little Mountain, near the start of the marathon, to pop rock bands near the finish line at Liberty Park, will serenade runners along the way.
The Deseret News will have same-day coverage of all races in our Friday edition, with a complete list of finishers to be published on Saturday morning.