For some, today's Deseret News Marathon and 10K race is a competition. The prize of $2,008 waiting for the men's and women's winners brings some of the top runners in the world, and certainly the state, to the event.

For others, the race is a personal quest for fitness and self-improvement where the clock is only a small part of the equation.

The ultra-competitive bunch — those who bounce from marathon to marathon in search of sponsors, winner's checks and course records — will likely be led by Jonathon Ndambuki as he seeks to add to his four consecutive wins on the course. Joseph Chirlee and Jynocel Basweti will certainly be names to watch out for, as will Utahns Seth Wold, Sasha Pavech and Bill Cobler.

One person who will not contend for a win is Farmington's Woody Whitlock.

The 77-year-old is returning to the race he first ran in 1988.

"I hurt myself so badly back then that I thought I'd never run again," Whitlock said. "But this is the first marathon I ever did. That's why I set my heart on it to run again."

Whitlock said he gave up running for more than a dozen years after his first marathon. But he eventually put the sneakers back on and has since run six marathons.

"It's my way of fighting off old age," Whitlock said. "I love the feeling of being fit."

With an eye on hopefully beating the time he registered 20 years ago, Whitlock said he hopes to settle into a comfortable pace and make a few friends as he runs.

"You meet people, and you feel a camaraderie," he said. "You know you're in for some pain, but you enjoy the people you are with and the feeling you get when you finish."

Several thousand runners will feel that as they line up for either the marathon at the top of Big Mountain in Emigration Canyon or the 10K in the Salt Lake foothills.

Teren Jameson, Seth Pilkington and Chandler Goodwin will be among the favorites for the 10K race.

Lindsey Dunkley, Emily Jameson and Carolyn Quebe figure to be among the best women's 10K runners.

The marathon starts at 5:30 a.m., finishing at Liberty Park, while the 10K begins at 6 a.m.


E-mail: jeborn@desnews.com