Fun returns in form of Beach to Bayou

Published May 3, 2007

A disappointing time at Boston two weeks ago didn't discourage a determined long-distance runner from Tarpon Springs.

Jacki Wachtel was looking for her first sub-three-hour time at Boston having already eclipsed 3:03 in Chicago and 3:02 in January at the Miami Marathon. But adverse weather conditions contributed heavily to a disappointing time of 3:30:59 on Patriots Day and a time for reflection for the 27-year-old math teacher at Mitchell High and track coach at Pasco-Hernando Community College.

The same week of Boston, that Saturday at the Beach to Bayou 5K in Tarpon, Wachtel ran away with the women's title in 18:55, well ahead of runnerup Celia Dubey, also of Tarpon, who clocked 20:49.

Wachtel finished third overall in the mixed field of 264 only behind Eric Chaykoskey (18:04) of New Port Richey and Victor Yeager, 47, of Dunedin, who finished in 18:34. Joe Palmer (19:16) of Palm Harbor, a former Largo High standout, finished fourth overall.

"I ran Beach to Bayou because it's in my hometown although it was just after Boston, " Wachtel said. "I was still sore but I ran it to have fun. Boston was disappointing but at least I survived. I learned a lot there."

Wachtel said she had the stomach flu the week before Boston and her condition erupted during the 26.2-mile run.

"I went out too fast at Boston, overdressed and spent considerable time in the Port-o-Potty at about Mile 11, " she said. "I felt dizzy coming out of there. But I'm signed up for Chicago in October where I hope to take a step toward qualifying for the 2008 Women's Olympic Trials.

Wachtel bounced back strongly last weekend at the Draft Day Dash out and back from Raymond James Stadium, eclipsing 18 minutes by running a swift 17:54 for first in the women's division and fifth overall among the mixed field of 1, 385. At Mile 1 she said she was about 25th then spent the next 12 minutes or so reeling in about 21 runners.

Wachtel and all finishers were greeted on the 50-yard line of the football field by Tampa Bay Bucs cheerleaders. She was followed by Meghan Sullivan (20:19) of Tampa and Anna Gray (20:23) of Brooksville.

The top men at the Draft Day Dash were Kyle Weeks (17:27) from Eagle Lake in Polk County, Jason Thomsen (17:34) of Winter Haven and Matt Schwartz (17:37) of Land O'Lakes.

Jason Wagner (18:17) of St. Petersburg was the first Pinellas man and he was followed by Dan Bergeson (18:41) of Oldsmar.

SPARTAN SPRINT 5K: Kelly McCarty of St. Petersburg duked it out with 14-year-old Grace Van de Grift of Valrico for 3.1 miles before pulling away for the women's win in Tampa on April 20 in a time of 18 flat. McCarty finished just nine seconds ahead of the women's winner of the recent Iron Girl 5K in Clearwater. Steve Mandel of Temple Terrace captured the men's title in 15:55 with Chris Hough of Tampa second (16:10).

BOSTON REVISITED: Coach Joe Burgasser has put marathon No. 119 behind him and is already training for No. 120, Twin Cities in Minnesota on Oct. 7.

Twin Cities is again the USATF National Masters Championship. Burgasser has run the event five times, winning his age group thrice with a best clocking there of 2:45:38 at age 58.

At Boston, Burgasser ground out the miles in 3:24:11, slowed somewhat by a persistent headwind, which he said he was prepared for running strategically on the (protected) left side of the road. He finished first American ages 65-69. But the official awards category there is 60-69, and there's a big age/performance gap between those 60 and 61 to those 68 and 69.

The only runner ahead of him among those 65-69, from Japan, ran with bib number 24626, which would indicate he started in the last pen with a qualifying time of more than four hours.

Stranger things have happened at Boston, such as Rosie Ruiz winning (temporarily) in 1980 ...until she was disqualified for starting at Kenmore Square, a mile away from the official finish line at the Boston Public Library.

- Belleair's Dee Anna Farnell was not included in the original listing of area finishers. She finished her 11th trek from Hopkinton in 4:09:04.

RIVER TO RIVER RELAY: A St. Petersburg-based relay team won the handicap division of the 20th annual River to River 80-mile relay race in Southern Illinois two weeks ago.

The Dixie Flyers Team, founded by Dick Ruzicka, returned to the winner's circle for the 10th with a net time of seven hours, 27 minutes for the eight runners covering 80 miles from the Mississippi to the Ohio River.

Larry Miller of Spring Hill was a key member of this year's team. Jim Larson, a regular on the team in past years, resigned from coaching and support this time as he bicycled the distance, offering encouragement to the team's racing members. Ruzicka, a Chicago native, was a key member of the team in past years, along with Burgasser, Larson, Jack Gough of Clearwater and nationally-ranked (age group) Al Treichel of Spring Hill.

AMERICAN RECORDS: Deena Kastor, the first American woman at Boston this year, not only holds the American marathon record (2:19:36 at London), she holds most of the road records, starting with the 5K with 14:54. Others include the 10K (31:06), 15K (47:15) and half-marathon (1:07:34). In addition, she holds the track 10K record of 30:52 and has a bronze medal from the '04 Olympic marathon in Athens.

COMING UP: The SunTrust Mile for Moffitt 5-mile race will be held on the Tampa campus of USF on May 12 at 8 a.m. A 5K also is on the program. The events start at Moffitt's main hospital entrance, 12902 Magnolia Drive. Register at www.milesformoffitt.com or call (813) 745-2006.