Hideo Sasaki only had to take one quick glance at Curt Brinkman to sense he was going to have a difficult time defending his championship of the Deseret News/Granite Furniture wheelchair marathon race.

Unfortunately for Sasaki, who traveled halfway around the world just to compete in the race, his intuition couldn't have been more accurate.The rest of the field was no competition for Brinkman, who used his powerful and long arms to cruise to a first-place finish in the marathon by a half-hour.

Brinkman, a Pleasant Grove resident, won the race for the first time, impressively finishing below the two-hour mark at 1:57:48.

"He has really long arms," said Sasaki, who came in second with a time of 2:27:38.

Though he didn't claim the top prize, Sasaki said he's enjoying his stay in Utah. He arrived here from Sendai City, Japan, on Wednesday specifically to compete in the race for the third year in a row.

Sasaki found out about the annual wheelchair competition, which he calls his "hobby," through Americans who served LDS missions in his corner of Japan. Now coming to Salt Lake City is an annual vacation for him and his family.

As a fun gesture of goodwill, Sasaki painted Japanese and American flags on his cheeks before Friday's race.

"I wanted to make it a little more fun," he said with a smile through his translator and friend, Brandon Baker.

Orem's Dan Maughan, competing in his first marathon, finished third in the marathon with a time of 2:38:12. He used a recumbant bike, which moves by pedaling instead of pushing the wheels.

Tom McCurdy, who's from Chubbuck, Idaho, won the gold medal in the men's 10K wheelchair race in 23:47. He also won last month's Salt Lake City Classic.

Last year's 10K champion, Nathan Crowton of Ogden, clipped almost two minutes off his 1997 time, but he came in second in 24:05. Longtime participant John Brewer, of Kaysville, finished in third (27:41).

There were no women participants in the 10K or marathon wheelchair races.