Brian Nicholson
FILE: Jared Ward crosses the finish line and is greeted by Meb Keflezighi during the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles Ca., Saturday, February 13, 2016.

Jared Ward was so worried that he wasn’t ready for Sunday’s New York Marathon, he called race officials a few weeks ago to let them know he was considering not racing.

“I had pulled my hamstring right at the beginning of September, and I tried to run a half marathon in the middle of September, and I had to pull out,” Ward told the Deseret News after earning the best finish (6th place) of U.S. men with a time of 2:12:24. “I just missed enough training that I thought, ‘This marathon is not going to work.’ So I called (race officials) and said, ‘I’m thinking about not running.’ They said, ‘Even if it’s not your best performance, even if you only make it halfway, we’d love it if you just came and tried.’”

He said they shared stories of other runners who had struggles leading up to the iconic event, but who went on to enjoy successful races.

“They said, ‘We’d love to take a chance on you, if you’re willing to come try,’” he said.

Ward did just that, saying that his training before tweaking his hamstring, which he originally injured in January, kept him from training for about three weeks.

“My buildups are normally 12 weeks for marathons,” he said. “This time it was about six weeks. But I had really good training before I pulled my hamstring in September, so that must have carried through.”

After Sunday’s race, which featured a thrilling finish in the men’s race, Ward said he felt “very healthy” but admitted he’s likely going to be sore as the pace made for the second fastest winning time in the marathon’s history.

Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa won the race with a time of 2:05:59, less than a minute slower than the record-setting time of 2:05:05 (2011). Second-place Shura Kitata (2:06:01) and third-place Geoffrey Kamworor (2:06:26) were battling for the lead when Desisa caught and then passed them in a spectacular bit of racing.

In the women's race, the top U.S. woman was 2017 champion Shalane Flanagan, who ran the course in 2:26:22, while Kenya's Mary Keitany won with a finish time of 2:22:48.

Desisa won Boston in 2013 and 2015, and he is popular in the U.S. because he presented the city of Boston with his race medal as a gesture of support following the bombing at the finish line of the race in 2013.

Ward, who is a professor at BYU, said the pace of the race “was interesting.”

“The leaders, once they decided to take off, really were screaming,” he said. “My pace wasn’t consistent throughout the race … but there are three straight aways that are four or five miles long each, and I thought I did a really good job of when I got on a straight away, just rolling along at the pace that felt right to me.”

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Ward’s time is the second-fastest of his career, with his best time coming at the 2016 Olympics — 2:11:30. That time also earned him a sixth-place finish.

Sunday’s race was the fifth top 10 finish of his career.

Ward, who is expecting his fourth child in January, plans to take a week off before running a few weeks at a “lighter load” and then moving into 80-90 percent in December.

“I hope this can be the base where I start building into a healthy 2019 and looking forward to the 2020 Olympic cycle,” he said. “It is a confidence boost that if I stay healthy and we can start from here, it really makes me excited.”