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Alene Reta crushes course record to defend men's 10K

SALT LAKE CITY — Records are meant to be broken. Rewriting history is every athlete's ultimate goal. To be penciled into the record books is not only rewarding but also gratifying. It takes sacrifice, hard work and dedication to achieve such feats.

Breaking your own record might be the sweetest taste imaginable.

Ethiopian native Alene Reta, from New York City, defended his Deseret News 10K title Saturday morning in the annual Pioneer Day race with his second-straight first-place finish with a time of 27:18:7. In the process, he shattered his previous course record of 27:46.4 — a time he set in last year's race.

"It was good. I ran last year, and this is my best time. I like the city, and I like the downhill," Reta said. "I like the downhill — some people don't, but I do. It's fun for me."

Reta, 28, credits his success to his racing scheme of jumping out in front of the pack at the start of the race, and coasting the rest of the steep downhill course that starts at Research Park by the University of Utah and ends at Liberty Park.

"At the start," Reta replied when asked when he made his move. "I don't want to see anybody in the race — (that's) always my strategy. I don't like to wait for people to kick. I go my way with my time."

Finishing shortly behind Reta was Andrew Ledwith with a time of 27:34.6. Ledwith had nothing but praise for Reta's dominating performance.

"It was tough running against Reta; he's very tough. (It) was very hard to pull him back (into sight)," Ledwith said. "I was making some headway in the last mile, and he was in sight, but it was too much. He's strong and a lot older than me and that means a lot when you get on the road."

Ledwith, a native of Ireland, recently migrated to Park City six weeks ago after training in Oregon for most of the year.

"My girlfriend got a job, so we relocated here. So, I'm here for the next couple of years and hopefully I'll be around doing more races and this one next year," Ledwith said.

Both were followed by Girma Jola, Stephen Muange and Miles Batty with times of 27:47:3; 27:48:9 and 28:17:0, respectively.

Batty, who currently competes for BYU, was the first Utahn to cross the finish line. He, however, used a much different approach than Reta to bettering his personal record for the course.

"My idea was to go out (and) go a little slower than everyone else and try and pick my way up," Batty said. "I would say maybe about a mile and a half into it, I knew if I wanted to catch some guys in front of me I had to pick it up."

Racers woke up at the crack of dawn to participate in the race. The early start time was a major factor in determining the outcome, as most racers aren't used to starting before the sun comes up.

"It's hard to adjust for a six o'clock start. I woke up this morning and thought 'do I have to?' " Ledwith said.

"It's really early. I'm not a fan of morning races —getting up at 4:20 (a.m.) to come down here," Batty said. "But at the same time, as soon as the alarm clock goes off, you get this adrenaline rush and it feels like the afternoon."

The top three finishers earned reward money of $1,500, $750 and $500 for their efforts. On top of that, the first three local finishers received $500, $250 and $150.

"I won't be able to accept it," said Batty who would have notched $500 for his finish. "I'm running amateur for BYU and I can't accept any prize money. I have to turn it down."