Andrew Letherby was one of three Australians to have beaten the international Olympic qualifying time for 2008, but his homeland selected only one of them to go to Beijing next month. "I had the IAAF standard, but Australia sets a higher standard. They could have sent us but decided not to," said Letherby.
"I'm over it now. That's why it's good to have races like this," Letherby, 28, said Thursday after winning the Deseret News/KJZZ-TV men's 10K at Liberty Park. "You miss out on the Olympics; there's other goals."
Letherby, who has lived the last seven years in Colorado, said he had seen the race advertised and knew someone who knew the race director, Bob Wood, so he decided, "Let's take a little trip. I've never been to Utah. My wife and I, she's running as well, come out, have a bit of fun, do the race and take our time going back, go back through Moab or something if I have the energy."
It was his first time running the Deseret News race.
"The downhill was really hard for me because the guys set such a fast pace," said Letherby, who ran 28:21 minutes to defeat Weber State's Seth Pilkington, who was fourth in the NCAA championships recently. Pilkington ran 28:39.
Grant Robison, a 2004 Olympian in the 1,500, was third in 28:59, followed by Salt Laker Teren Jameson (29:20), who had been second in the 2007 Deseret News 10K and had an early lead Thursday. Patrick Smyth, Deseret News runner-up in 2006, placed fifth in 29:36.
"I'm a marathon runner, so my legs didn't like the downhill," Letherby said. "But I noticed on some of the flatter sections that I was catching up and feeling strong. My plan was to wait until four miles and then try to make a move, but I went just after three, 3 1/2. The last half-mile there, I had nothing left. I was just surviving.
"I was just happy to cross the line. It's a hard race. It's downhill, but it's still challenging."
Letherby, who has run in the world championships and Commonwealth Games and is a part-time editor for an Australian running magazine, first came to America in 1994 to attend Georgia State University. He married an American and moved back to the U.S. in 2001, settling in Colorado.
He's planning to do another full marathon next, but he hasn't decided which one. The 10K is good training for marathons, Letherby said.
He expected to be competitive. "I came to win, but when I saw the field, I knew it was going to be tough because there's some guys there that have a lot of speed. Grant Robison, an Olympian. You don't want that guy around you with 100 meters to go.
"I'm very happy. It was hard work. I really struggled a lot."
Pilkington said he's run a lot over his senior year at Weber and came into the race feeling "dead-legged," so he was pleased with what he did. "We went out pretty hard, and then the pace lagged a little bit around three miles, so I put in a bit of a move. After I put in the move, (Letherby) took off and was able to gap me. He's a great runner. I don't feel bad getting beaten by him," Pilkington said.
He will return to Weber for his master's, and he and his wife are expecting their first child in September. He'll decide what future races to run after that.
Robison, 29, is more of a miler, but Wood had enlisted the Ohioan to be part of the Mormon Times race team and flew him out to Salt Lake City for his first competition as part of that club. "I felt pretty good through four miles, all the downhill," Robison said. "It's really taxing on your legs. I stayed with (Letherby) for probably a half-mile (after that), and slowly he just pulled away."
Jameson said he's cut his training about in half since finishing 36th at the U.S. Olympic marathon trials last fall. He ran well the first half of Thursday's race, but, "At that point, those guys were just stronger. It's just time to relax a little more an enjoy it. I have other stuff in life," said the former Ute who is an electrical engineer for L3 Communications.He is running mainly just Utah circuit races for fun now, the marathon trials the last of his national-type races. "Been there, done that," he said.