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Wasatch 100 ‘buries’ favorites

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DNF. It means "did not finish," but for many runners of the 22nd annual Wasatch 100 this past weekend — including the top male and female contenders — it may as well read DOA, "dead on arrival."

Sandy resident and ultra marathon powerhouse Karl Meltzer can normally knock out a 100-mile race in between 20 and 21 hours. This year, the event's record-holder was on pace to win after 50 miles. But near mile 60, he was DNF.

Despite this year's disappointment, Meltzer said Friday before the race, "It's been a good year," with three "ultra" wins under his belt, including a record at the Colorado Hardrock Hundred.

Susan Hunter Yates won the 2000 Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run with the third-best women's time ever. But almost 22 hours after Saturday's 5 a.m. start, she signed the DNF form that took her out of the race.

All total, nearly 80 runners who started what some call one of the country's toughest 100-mile runs never made it to the finish line at the Homestead resort in Midway. The reasons — either for medical reasons, because they were simply unable to go on or because time ran out. More than 20 runners out of a possible field of 209 never made the start line.

In somewhat morbid ultra-marathon lingo, many runners will say they're "dead and buried" at aid stations dubbed "the morgue" and "the hospital."

This year's winning time — 21 hours, 44 minutes and 38 seconds, posted by Leland Barker — did not break the top-10 all time finishes. The fastest Wasatch 100 was run by Meltzer — 20:08:00 in 1998.

The top three male finishers were Barker, Curtis Anderson at 22:35:27 and Derek Blaylock, 22:37:56. The top three females: Betsy Nye, 26:17:29; Pam Reed, 28:03:51; and Barbara Frye-Krier, 28:48:49.

The Wasatch 100 is run every year through the Wasatch Mountains. This year's race started in Kaysville's East Mountain Wilderness Park, with runners allowed 36 hours within which to officially qualify as a finisher.

Entrants run and hike the grueling route over trails, dirt roads and a small amount of paved road. Runners stop at aid stations for food, drink, medical attention and moral support from crew members. Pacers can pick up runners at about mile 40 and help them the rest of the way.

Running 100 miles over mountainous terrain and trying to beat a 36-hour deadline — the Wasatch 100 is no walk in the woods. The Deseret News' Focus section Thursday will feature in print and photo the anecdotes and anguish from one of the state's most grueling endurance events.

E-MAIL: sspeckman@desnews.com