A little seasoning goes a long, long way

Published August 13, 2006

Youth must be served, but at the Sunsets at Pier 60 Series this summers, the veteran runners have dominated.

Last Friday night, three of the top four men and women were 40 or older. In his second race of the five race-series, Keith Sawayda, 43, of Clearwater, won comfortably in 17:31. After Wes Reynolds, 15, of St. Petersburg took second in 18:27, two more masters division runners followed - Chris Cone (19:05) of Arizona and Wayne Diny (19:24) of Tampa.

Among the top-10 men, six were 40 or older, including 10th place Ron Murawsky, 50, of Clearwater, who clocked 20:23.

In the women's division, after dominant Christa Benton crossed in 18:34, good for third overall, the pecking order was all masters, led by Amy McClenathan, 46, of St. Petersburg in 20:57. She edged out Kit Van Allan (21:12) and Carol Wilson (21:14), both of Palm Harbor.

Benton, a fifth-year senior at the University of South Florida, has won all four races this year and leads the series with a maximum of 80 points with just one race to go. Overall winners receive 20 points, 18 for second and 16 for third.

The finale is set for Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. on Clearwater Beach. A free mile run for kids starts at 6:45.

The outcome of the men's series is wide open with six runners tied with 56 points. And Sawayda is not one of them because his two wins in two races give him a maximum 40 points.

Ryan Hoge of St. Pete Beach has won his 10-and-under division all four times for 56 points based on 14 for each win. The other five with the same total are Howard Feingold, 35-39; Anders Heidemann, 45-49; Jon Feltham, 55-59; Duncan Cameron, 60-64; and Jack Gough, 75 and over.

The tiebreaker is the series' best time. That puts Feingold in the driver's seat with a time of 18:33 in the third race.

ULTRA MARATHON REVISITED: Noora Alidina has returned home in Palm Harbor from California after successfully completing the rigorous Badwater Ultra, a 135-mile adventure from the depths of Death Valley to a point 8,000 feet above sea level on Mount Whitney. The final 12 miles are uphill.

Alidina finished 16th among 85 starters with a time of 37 hours, 16 minutes and 15 seconds. That was a 5-hour, 24-minute improvement over last year's time.

Alidina, 49, said her improvement was due, in large part, to starting her training program earlier and making it more intense. She ran 100 to 170 miles a week for four months leading up to the event, including 44 miles every Saturday.

"I really looked forward to (Badwater) this year and came to it with a positive attitude," she said. "I was excited to be there again and happy that I finished sooner than last year so my support crew could rest."

This year, that vital support team included husband Arif, son Jasmin, a senior swimmer at Palm Harbor University and Robert Oliver, plus training partners Mike Machado, Mitch Scott and Mary Stewart-Wong.

Jim Bodah, 53, another member of the West Florida Y Runners Club, ran his third Badwater in personal-record time. He finished 52nd in 46:36:25. In his previous two efforts, he clocked 52 and 50 hours, he said.

Bodah serves as the director of the annual John Holmes 50K/15-mile trail run, which is held in Brooksville's Croom Forest on Oct. 14.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Joe Burgasser of the Forerunners Club came away from last week's USATF Masters Track and Field Championships with first- and second-place finishes in his 65-69 age division. The meet was held at the Charlotte campus of the University of North Carolina.

In the 5,000-meter event in oppressive heat, Burgasser passed Bill Borla, the 2005 USATF 65-69 Runner of the Year, at the halfway point and went on to win in 19:23, 10 seconds up on Borla. It was his first defeat in six years.

On Saturday, Burgasser led the 25-lap 10K for the first 9,990 meters only to be passed by Borla at the wire. Borla, from Torrington, Conn., won by a second in 40:44 in a near photo finish.

Charles Keating of Clearwater placed third in the 10K (45:08) and fourth in the 5K (21:22) at the meet in that age division. Also, Colman Mooney of Palm Harbor took seventh in the 5K in 24:24.