Former North Sanpete track star runs in Olympic trials in Atlanta
By Robert Stevens
A former North Sanpete High School track star’s ambitions to run an Olympic marathon will just have to wait another four years.
The aspirations of Sylvia Bedford, the daughter of Bill and Cindy Bedford of Fairview, were postponed at the Olympic Trials in Atlanta, Ga. on Feb. 29. Sylvia finished in the top half of the pack in a grueling race that featured over 400 of the nation’s best female marathon runners.
Sylvia, now 29, will continue training to qualify for the next Olympic Games in 2024, said her father Bill, who is a track and field coach at Wasatch Academy.
After graduating from North Sanpete, Sylvia went on to run track for Southern Utah University. She now works as a personal trainer at Life Time Fitness in South Jordan.
At the qualifying race in Atlanta, Sylvia got off to a great start and registered many miles at under six minutes per mile, said her father Bill. But the course was difficult for the runners. Unseasonably cool and windy conditions kept the athletes on their guard constantly. It was difficult to establish a rhythm and maintain even speeds, which is a key to marathon success, Bill said.
Like many of the other competitors, her pace dropped somewhat at the end but she still finished the course in 2:47, in 173rd place out of over 400 finishers. In addition, 15 to 20 percent of the women’s field dropped out, each for a different reason, but the high attrition was a testimony to the challenging nature of the course and windy conditions, Bill said.
A veteran now of ten marathons, Sylvia commented after the race, “This was the hardest thing I have ever done. It became a battle to finish up and maintain a good pace.”
The top three women who advanced to the Olympics included Aliphine Tuliamuk, with a winning time of 2:27:23, Molly Seidel and Sally Kipyego, with former Boston marathon champion Desi Linden and Laura Thweatt as alternates. For the men, Galen Rupp won easily, followed by Jacob Riley and 43-year-old Abdi Abdirahman.
Sylvia qualified for the Olympic Trials in June of 2018 at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn., a popular course for prospective qualifiers. She ran 2:42 and beat the qualifying standard by three minutes. She has since lowered her “personal record” at the marathon distance of 26.2 miles at the St. George marathon, where she has been the women’s winner the last two years. Her time of 2:34 in 2019 bested the previous women’s course record by two minutes.
Many friends and family made the trip to Atlanta to cheer her on and support her any way possible, Bill said. Her experience at the Trials was a great opportunity to race and learn from the best and she is already looking forward to training for the next Olympics.