Olympic hopeful Zepherinus Joseph of the West Indies starts fast then cruises to the 10K title at Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic.
CLEARWATER - There was a strong international presence at the 16th annual Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic trying to cope with strong head winds and cold weather.
Zepherinus Joseph of St. Lucia in the West Indies led all the way, crossing the finish line of the 10K (6.2 miles) in 31 minutes, 25 seconds, running 5:03 per mile.
Jack Convery, 41, of Leeds, England, finished second in 32:18, followed by Mike Smedley, 30, of Colorado Springs in 32:19.
Joseph, 28, a senior at North Florida, took the early lead with a 4:54 mile and cruised home.
"I just made sure I was in the lead and only ran fast enough to stay there," said Joseph, who expects to be named to the West Indies 2004 Olympic marathon team. He finished sixth at October's Twin Cities Marathon in 2:16:06.
Convery ran a swift first mile in 5:05 but saw Joseph well ahead at that point.
"I could see he was in a different class, so my outlook was to just let him go," Convery said. "I'm just here on holiday with my family and came at this time of the year to be able to run in this race."
Lisa Vaill, 41, came from Gainesville, her winter training site, and won the women's division by more than two minutes in 36:02. She finished sixth overall in a field of 209.
Vaill is training for the 2004 Olympic trials marathon, her fourth attempt to qualify for the Games.
Rachel Chambers, 31, of Sarasota placed second (38:13) in the women's division, followed by Judy Maguire, 45, of the host Dianetics Running Team.
With masters division runners placing among the top five, the awards in that category went to Gary Peters, 43, of Plant City, who was ninth in 37:19, and Amy McClenathan, 44, of St. Petersburg, who finished in 41:41.
Former Largo High standout Nate Davis, a junior at Florida State, ran shoulder to shoulder with Joseph for the first mile before peeling off to claim the men's title in the concurrent 5K. His time was 16:18, well ahead of Danny Ayres of New Port Richey, who was second in 16:51.
Kristy Fuller of the South Florida track team took the women's 5K title in 18:22.