Facebook Twitter



A record field exceeding 4,000 participated in the 19th annual Salt Lake City Classic Saturday, but few saw things the same way.

A two-time Olympian called it a good "tune-up," while the next in line said the men's 5K was just a "race for second." The women's winner made the journey while awaiting "Phantom of the Opera" and the 10K showcased a pair of successful marathon runners - both from Utah.The varying storylines aptly describe this year's journey from the Gallivan Center to Franklin Quest Field - a route filled with walkers, runners, wheelchair athletes and costumed participants, including a pair in pink flamingo garb and a graduate in cap and gown.

"I'm very pleased with how it went," said race director Greg Reid. "It was great."

Ed Eyestone, who will compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in the 10,000 meters two weeks from now in Atlanta, posted the day's top performance. The Layton resident captured his third SLC Classic title in the 5K with a 14:27 clocking - six seconds better than his race record time in 1992 and 35 ticks faster than runner-up Corbin Talley of Weber State.

"I just wanted to do a sharp kind of tune-up and I think this race accomplished that," said Eyestone. "I felt comfortable from the beginning."

Eyestone never trailed after taking the lead 150 yards from the start.

"It was a race for second," said Talley, a former Bingham High star who edged collegiate teammates Joe Wilson (15:12) and Jerome Tolman (15:17) for the runner-up spot. "And we didn't mind."

Neither did race officials who applauded Eyestone and 10K winner Paul Pilkington of Roy - both world-class runners - for participating.

"It's nice that they feel it is worth it for them to compete in," said Reid.

Their inclusion, however, eliminated any doubt as to the outcome of the men's races.

Pilkington joined Eyestone as a runaway winner.

"I went out hard, got a gap and then just cruised after three miles," Pilkington said of his 47 second victory (30:43).

Salt Lake City residents Dave Spence (31:30) and Torry Kraftson (31:38) finished second and third.

"This is the biggest 10K race in Utah," women's winner Cheryl Harper of Orem said after her second victory. "I didn't see anybody the whole way and I didn't expect that."

Twice crowned the St. George Marathon champion and a participant in the recent Olympic Trials, Harper missed last year's SLC Classic - the first not to end at Liberty Park - because she was 81/2 months pregnant with her fourth child. She returned with a winning time of 37:27.

"It's better than the old one," Harper said of the new course and its reduced upward climb.

Beth Drees (38:25) of Salt Lake placed second and Paula Morrison (38:41) was third.

Credit the Capitol Theatre - "Phantom of the Opera" in particular - for bringing 5K champ Cori Knoeller to town. The Boise State product, who registered just prior to the race, ran a 17:37 to easily outdistance Jennifer Bowler (18:20) and Linda Mulkey (19:07) for top honors.

"My mom and I planned this trip for a year," Knoeller said before musing. "I'll come back next year - just for the race."

Fellow Idahoan Tom McCurdy of Chubbock won the men's wheelchair 10K with a time of 26:00, while South Jordan's Sharon Penney captured the women's title in 36:49.