Nicole Jefferson had run only one 10-kilometer race before Tuesday, saying she came to Utah for the Deseret News/Granite Furniture race "mostly for fun."
She had more fun that she ever imagined as she beat her previous 10K time by three minutes in winning the women's race with a time of 32 minutes and 39 seconds under cool conditions Tuesday morning.
The 25-year-old from Arvada, Colo., led from start to finish in capturing the $2,500 first prize. She relegated Ogden's Emily Nay to second place for the second straight year as she finished at 33:23, while Montana's Nicole Hunt finished third for the second straight year with a time of 33:52.
"I'm not really a 10K runner," said Jefferson after her victory. "I'm a miler and 5K runner and have been running track all spring. This was mostly just for fun, but it ended up being really good."
Jefferson, who ran track at Western State in Gunnison, Colo., went out quickly but had no idea how fast she was going because there were no mile markers or clocks along the way.
"I didn't know how fast I was going, so I was just kind of running for the finish line," she said. "I had no idea. I thought the other girls would catch up."
Jefferson breezed through the first five miles but said the final mile was tough. However, she had a big enough lead that she was never in danger of losing.
Last year, Nay was passed on the final straightaway by Katrina Price-Crosby, who wasn't entered this year. But Tuesday, Nay never really challenged the eventual winner.
"In hindsight, maybe I should have stayed a little closer, but I don't know if I would have been able to stay and kick with her," said Nay. "She got out fast early and ran a really strong race from start to finish."
The former BYU all-American pulled within 10 or 15 seconds of Jefferson midway through the race but couldn't close the gap.
"I'm not too disappointed — I felt like I gave it my best," said Nay. "More than anything I wanted to get a personal record, and I fell a little short of that (by six seconds)."
Jefferson's only other 10K race was two years ago in Montana when she ran 35:50 and finished fourth. She said Tuesday's race marks the end of her season. Her next race will be a 10K race in November in Mobile, Ala.
"It's time to take a break," she said.
Rounding out the top five were Orem's Kara Ormond at 34:31 and late entry Karoline Szabo at 34:48.