LARGO - It was appropriate for a Largo resident to win the 25th annual Unicorn Gallop 5K on a two-loop course from Largo Central Park.
Brian Scott, 35, decided to take the lead just short of the midpoint of the 3.1-mile race and won in 17 minutes, 8 seconds. Close behind were runner-up Ian Payne, winner of last month's Gulf Beaches Marathon, and David Putnam, 45, from Belleair Bluffs. They were timed in 17:16 and 17:47, respectively.
"I was surprised to be up there near the leaders during the first loop," Scott said. "I thought I could catch them and hold the pace since I've been doing a lot of long training runs lately."
Scott extended a tentative lead at the halfway mark.
"It was a hard race but well worth it," Scott said. "I've been recovering since October when I was hit by a car while cycling. That accident left me with a couple of broken ribs plus hip and calf injuries."
Forerunners coach Joe Burgasser, 65, finished 25th (19:15) in a field of 210 and first in the grandmasters (50-plus) division.
There was no suspense in the women's division as defending champion Judy Maguire, 45, of Clearwater's Dianetics Running Team won going away in 17:57, good for sixth overall.
She was followed by Vicki Stum (18:13) of the sponsoring West Florida Y Runners Club and Forerunners Lisa Valentine (18:36), Laure Blume (18:50) and Sandy Ferreira (18:59).
Maguire said she was pleasantly surprised to break the 18-minute mark, which was eclipsed on a cool, breezeless morning.
"Since I didn't peak for this race at all, I didn't think I'd break 18 minutes here," said the former winner of the Brandon, Gulf Beaches and Marine Corps (D.C.) marathons. "I'm encouraged that I can still do this well since I don't do track work anymore."
Maguire said she'd be running Saturday in the Beach to Bayou 5K in Tarpon Springs and the next weekend's Armadillo 10K in Oldsmar.