SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly seven years after he surprised everyone by earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic Marathon team, Jared Ward is trying to figure out how to unlock the magic again.

He took a step in the right direction with a win at the Deseret News 10K on Monday morning, but he said it is a delicate balance between pushing himself through new challenges and making sure he’s smart about his aging body.

“There’s a lot of trade-offs,” said the former BYU standout and 2016 Olympian. “I think that your cardio continues to get better. My cardio is so strong. And while the speed goes down, the risk of injury goes up. But there is also some resilience that comes with the added time. The young guys keep getting younger, and they’re fast.”

The 34-year-old Ward won his second consecutive Deseret News 10K with a time of 27:58. Joey Nokes, Riverton, was second with a time of 28:26, while Habtamu Cheney, Provo, was third crossing the line in 29:06.

For the women, Savannah Berry, Orem, earned the win with a time of 31:42. Makenna Myler, Sandy, was second, finishing in 32:47, while Orem’s Hannah Branch earned third with a time of 32:54.

Ward said he’s been training hard and may run a marathon in the fall to prepare for the Olympic Trials in February. He doesn’t need to run the marathon to compete in the Olympic Trials in February, but he said he may want to because it could help the U.S. team.

“It’s a complicated system qualifying for the Olympics now, but the U.S. has yet to secure allocations for the men’s marathon,” he said. “We need to run well this fall, and I think we should have three spots by the time trials roll around. … I’d like to go pull my weight and raise our chances of getting three spots in the Olympics before the trials.”

Michael Ottesen, Ashley Paulson win Deseret News marathon
JaQuavious Harris, Billie Hatch win Deseret News half marathon
Thomas Pickford, Adria Favero win Deseret News 5K races

He said it’s also been a while since he had a marathon performance he felt good about.

“I have been sorting out going on thyroid medication because I have Hashimoto’s, so my thyroid doesn’t work as well anymore,” he said. “And I’m still working out how my body reacts to thyroid and stuff. So it’s been a couple of years since I felt like I had a good one, and I’d like to run a good marathon to be ready for the trial.”

Ward said he felt great after Monday’s 10K win, despite the sweltering heat. 

He’s not sure what the future holds for his running career, but he and his wife plan to welcome their sixth child in December.

“I’m focused on February and the trials right now,” he said. “And then we’ll make decisions after that.”

Berry wanted to prove something to herself when she lined up for the Deseret News 10K Monday morning.

It really had nothing to do with anyone but herself. 

“I felt like my college experience, I did alright, but I don’t think I was able to tap into how good I can be,” said Berry, who graduated UVU in 2018. “My PR was from my sophomore year.”

The 27-year-old said struggles with illness and injury robbed her of performing her best in her junior and senior seasons.

“I felt like I had room to grow,” she said. “I feel like the half and marathon distances are what I’m best at, but I’ve been really, really trying to get my speed up.”

To do that, she’s been running shorter races at faster paces. It paid off Monday as she won in a very strong field with a personal best of 31:42. She plans on running a marathon in the fall, although she’s still deciding which one. She also hopes to run at the Olympic Trials in February. 

“I definitely feel very, very happy,” she said. “It feels like it’s been worth the effort to be able to PR.”

High school team awards

1. Mountain View.

2. Fremont.

3. Carbon.

10K team boys winners

1. Riverton.

2. Viewmont A.

3. Farmington.