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Teacher wins 5K event in Race for the Cure

© St. Petersburg Times
published September 22, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- In the five-event Suncoast Race for the Cure, Clearwater's Vicki Stum overcame the front-runner in the main-event 5K road race at Straub Park Saturday to win the women's division in 18 minutes, 56 seconds.

Stum, 32, a first-grade teacher at Bardmoor Elementary School, said she was content to let Rachel Alexander, 30, of London take the early lead. Stum was hoping to narrow the gap in the second half, which was on Beach Drive and Coffee Pot Boulevard and looped back to the start near the Pier.

"Since I haven't done any serious running for the past six weeks, I knew I had to be consistent and conservative going out," said Stum, who ran for the University of West Virginia. "She (Alexander) had a 20-second lead on me at Mile 1, but I began to notice she was falling back and I was getting nearer. When I passed her at 2, I noticed her breathing was heavy. I looked back a couple of times during the last mile hoping no one was gaining on me because my legs just couldn't go any faster."

Lisa Valentine (19:02) of Tierra Verde finished second, followed by Tampa's Martha Vidal (19:05) and Geanne Lesniak (19:06) of St. Petersburg.

The five events, including a 5K walk, 1-mile Fun Run, Kids Dashes and Survivors March, drew a record field of approximately 8,000, event chair Dr. Barbara Hall said.

The men's 5K race was anticlimactic after the first 400 meters. Admiral Farragut Academy senior John Biffar was challenged briefly by Gabit Shaimerdenov, 32, of MacDill Air Force Base but Biffar surged and hit Mile 1 in 5 minutes. He maintained command and won comfortably in 16:15.

"I tried to relax in the second mile and then pick up the pace in the third," said Biffar, Times 2000 high school cross-country runner of the year. "I was pretty amazed to see how much of a lead I had. This win is a big confidence builder for me since I missed a lot of track season this year with an injury."

Mickey Hooke, 41, of Bradenton came on strong to grab second in 16:53, followed by Shaimerdenov (16:56), Steve Wilcox (17:02) of St. Petersburg and Clearwater High School's Brian Calder (17:06).

In the field of about 1,000, triathlete Don Ardell, 64, of Tampa finished 20th in 18:38.

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