Marathon winner once finished 454th

He started career by running away from home; now he runs away from pack to win races

Gordon Hyde began running at about age 10 – away from home.

"I used to think I could live in the mountains better than in the city," he said of his early desires to leave home.Sixteen years later, Hyde is running away from competitors instead of from home. On July 24 he pulled away early from a field of nearly 400 runners to win the Deseret News-KSL Radio Marathon in 2 hours, 27 minutes and 35 seconds.

Hyde's marathon victory came 10 years after he first ran the race at age 16.

"I said then I would never run this race again," Hyde commented. But he has run it "six or seven times" since. Hyde, a home teacher and first counselor in the Sunday School presidency of the Hillcrest 1st Ward, in Orem, Utah, prefers running shorter distances.

The grueling marathon course covers the same mountainous route the first pioneers traveled to enter the Salt Lake Valley. Much of the early part of the 26.2-mile course is uphill while other parts of the race include punishing downhill stretches.

In the women's division, Valerie Stephens, Mia Maid adviser in the Orchard 4th Ward in North Salt Lake City, Utah, captured her third Deseret News-KSL Radio Marathon title in 3:07.40. Jim Peterson of the Layton (Utah) 20th Ward placed first in the wheelchair division.

More than 2,000 runners competed in the 10K race, also sponsored by the Deseret News and KSL Radio, which was won by Jon Sinclair of Fort Collins, Colo. In the women's division, Tina Ljundberg of El Paso, Texas, finished first in 32:10. John Brewer won the wheelchair competition of the 10K in 26:50.

After the marathon, one of those who sought Hyde out to congratulate him was his former bishop, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Hatch served as bishop when Hyde was running away from home. Sen. Hatch, Hyde's family and neighbors helped the boy, but running made the big difference.

A neighbor, Ralph Romney, took the boy to the track while Romney's son trained. By the time Hyde began attending junior high, he was determined to make the track team.

"I was a skinny kid in junior high school who didn't fit in," Hyde recalled. "I started running to fit in."

Success in running translated into better grades and social acceptance. He soon developed a dream of running marathons. He ran his first one at 16, expecting to win, but instead finished in 454th place.

He later ran distance races for BYU. He also served a mission to Dallas, Texas. Now, with a family, he considers running a hobby. However, since he quit taking running so seriously, he has won several local races.

Of the marathon, Hyde said, "I didn't train for this. I just wanted to finish." He almost didn't finish, however. With about three miles left in the marathon, Hyde ran into some trouble and would have quit if it wasn't for his wife, Carrie.

"This one is for my wife," said Hyde, "She deserved that the first-prize trip to HawaiiT."

The women's marathon winner, Valerie, 29, also ran for BYU. She ran her first Deseret News-KSL Radio Marathon in 1979, hoping she could some day finish among the top 20.

"If somebody would have told me I would someday win it three times, I wouldn't have believed them," she exclaimed.

In the shorter 10K race, many runners were just happy to participate with other family members. For example, the De Camp family of Vernal, Utah, schedule side-by-side motel rooms each year when they come to Salt Lake City for the race. Don and his wife, Rayann, joined Don's mother, Betty Jean De Camp, 54, in running the race this year. It was Rayann's first race while her husband and mother-in-law have been running several years.

After the race, Rayann was lying on the ground and didn't appear too eager to get up. Don and Betty Jean were gathered around her offering encouragement.

"It was hard," said Rayann of the 6.2-mile run.

She had trained four months for the race. She and her husband often ran together while Betty Jean watched the couple's four children.

"Running brings the whole family together," Don said.