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Newcomer enjoys victory

By FRANK PASTOR
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 27, 2002

SPRING LAKE -- When Peaty Nokomis moved from Colorado to Clermont, it was to accommodate his wife, Sara, who was recently transferred to the USA Triathlon National Training Center there.

But it was Peaty who was surrounded by reporters Saturday after winning the 23rd annual Flatlanders Challenge.

"You're Peaty's wife today," he told Sara, who is six months pregnant and did not run.

Competing in his first road race since moving to Florida, Nokomis, 31, completed the hilly, 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) course in 35 minutes, 30 seconds.

Kathleen Kaye, 43, of St. Petersburg was the top female among 158 finishers.

Nokomis, who runs about 40 miles a week, used the race as a training run for the Dannon Duathlon (5K run, 30K bike) March 10 in Grenelefe. He said his time was uncharacteristically slow.

"I don't know if it's the time of year or the heat and humidity and hills or what," he said.

Nokomis went out in 5:30 and averaged slightly slower splits the rest of the race. His only trouble spot was the first turnaround, which he nearly missed.

"I was coming down that huge hill and there's just a dead turnaround at the cone," he said. "They weren't paying attention to me, so I shot past it and (a race official) came up the road and said, "No, back that way."'

A former miler at the University of Kansas, Nokomis used to run with Jim Ryun, a three-time Olympian and silver medalist in the 1,500-meter run at the 1968 Summer Games.

"I never lost to him," Nokomis said. "But he was getting pretty old."

Nokomis learned about Flatlanders from his realtor, Diane Travis, a duathlete who also ran.

"It's nice to have a tough course like this in Florida," he said.

Kaye, running in her second Flatlanders race and first in Spring Lake, might have preferred something a little less challenging as she prepared for the Gasparilla 15K race Feb. 9 in Tampa.

"The last time, it was a couple of years ago and it was a different course and I was younger," she said. "But it didn't seem that hard."

Kaye passed women's runner-up Jennifer Schmidt near the 1-mile mark and held off a late charge to finish 13 seconds ahead of the 31-year-old Inverness resident.

"At the end, she was starting to get closer," Kaye said. "I was getting worried."

In the 3K fun run, John Bell, 17, of Hudson won in 10:50. Kerri Costanzo, 15, of Spring Hill was the top female finisher in 12:35.

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