SALT LAKE CITY — Olympian and BYU alum Jared Ward took home the top prize in the 2019 Deseret News 10K early on Pioneer Day morning.
“It was a tough race. My training block for the races this fall is really just getting under way, so I’m not real sharp yet, but I was excited to see that some of my fitness from last season carried over and I was able to put together a good race, but it doesn’t make it easy,” Ward said.
Ward finished with a time of 28:24.2 to take home the gold medal in the 10K. Luis Orta finished in second place, crossing the finish line at 28:38.6. Jason Lynch rounded out the top three with a time of 29:31.5.
The weather was about as cool as Utah will get near the end of the July, with overcast skies and even a few drops of rain.
“The overcast and 70s are about all you can hope for here. It still feels hot. I was tempted to grab water with a mile to go and thought, 'No, I can make it to the finish line,'” Ward said.
Ward prepared for the Deseret News race with some runs, but the win came in an offseason for him. Ward will ramp up his training starting this week in preparation for the fall marathon season.
“A few fartlek runs and some long runs. I really took an offseason from mid-June to mid-July, and that’s just running and doing a little bit of maintenance, lifting and things. We’re just barely, really starting with this week, ramping back up into workout to get ready for the fall,” Ward said.
The race wasn’t all easy for Ward, who admitted that hitting the flat streets of Salt Lake City was challenging after descending down Emigration Canyon.
“Coming through around mile five was tough. You get the downhill in all this race, and then you hit the flat, and after a couple miles of motoring and spinning your wheels on the flat, it wears on you,” Ward said.
Ward and Orta were neck and neck until the final two miles, when Ward broke away.
“Really, not until Luis broke back from me with about two miles to go. We hit that last hill coming off of West Temple on to 200, and that downhill, I pulled away a little bit and then just tried to hold it on the flat. It wasn’t until I had a gap that I thought, 'OK, maybe this is my day.’ Luis is a fantastic runner, and I take him very seriously any time he’s on the starting line," Ward said.
Ward broke his goal time of 29 minutes. Up next for him is the Great North Run in northern England in September, the largest half-marathon in the world.
Former University of Utah cross-country and track star Grayson Murphy won the women’s division with a time of 32:47.0, good for 10th overall in the 10K.
Hiruni Wijayaratne finished in second place with a time of 33:31.6, and Sylvia Bedford placed third with a time of 34:00.3.
Murphy was supported by her family, who were on hand for the race.
“Really fun. It’s always good to be in my hometown and get the win. My family is here, so that’s always fun. Start to a good day,” Murphy said.
Like Ward, the hardest part of the race for Murphy was when she hit the flat.
“Probably the last two miles because it’s not downhill any more, you have to start working a little harder,” Murphy said. “It’s a fun course. You go really fast the first 5K and then it kind of slows down. It’s nice to have all the fans out there, and it’s a good atmosphere,” Murphy said.
Murphy had a good idea that she was going to win during the race.
“I was by myself by like three miles, no girls around me,” Murphy said.
Murphy is racing again on Sunday.