Four men tied for first in Pier 60 series

By DAVE THEALL, Times correspondent
Published August 23, 2007

Tension is mounting for Friday night's fifth and final race in the Sunsets at Pier 60 Series at Clearwater Beach.

Christa Benton is a lock for the women's title with 80 points based on a perfect score - 20 each for four wins - but there's a four-way tie for first among men.

Russell Snyder of St. Petersburg has a win and two second-place finishes for 56 points. In age group scoring, where a win is worth 14 points, three men have the maximum 56 points for four consecutive wins. They are Ron Murawsky, ages 50-54; Duncan Cameron, 60-64; and Jack Gough, 75 and over.

Count Northeast High grad Snyder out of the mix since he left for college - Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach - where he's training for cross country season.

Wes Reynolds, a junior at St. Petersburg High, was the men's winner in the fourth race Aug. 10. He ripped off a fast time of 17 minutes, 17 seconds on a typically humid night, the second-fastest winning time in the series to Kevin Lyons' 16:57.

What motived him to break away from a loose pack at the 2-mile mark was encouragement directed toward another runner, he said.

"On the way back to the finish area someone yelled 'Go Christa,' and I decided it was time for me to pick up the pace, too," Reynolds said. "Up to that point, I couldn't separate myself from my coach, Lee Fictum, at St. Pete High, or this runner from Michigan."

Reynolds never let up as his momentum swept him to the finish line at Pier 60. Runnerup Jeff Weber of Grand Rapids, Mich., settled for second in 17:39, followed by Fictum in 17:48 and Benton (18:11), just ahead of men's fourth-place finisher Marc Dannis (18:57) of St. Petersburg.

"I got in a quality workout," Reynolds said. "That's more important to me than the win."

NOTE: Reynolds has good genes. His mother, Lauri, has been an outstanding road runner in the area for nearly 20 years. At last year's Bay to Bay 12K race across St. Petersburg, she won the 45-49 division in 55:20. In college, Reynolds excelled in cross country and track at Slippery Rock (Pa.) University.

WOMEN'S RESULTS: Benton, who ran the Grandma's Marathon in June in 2:58:23, was unchallenged, as usual. She said she and her coach, Lance Lipham at Keswick Christian, are looking at fall marathon opportunities. This year she has run two others - Disney and Boston.

Carol Wilson of Coral Gables took second in 20:54, followed by Donna Nesslar, 21:31; Mary Dworkin, 22:35; and Carol Bancroft, 22:46.

In age group highlights, judge Dee Anna Farnell of Belleair won the 50-54 bracket in 24:33.

OVARIAN CANCER 5K: Lee Stephens of Land O'Lakes won Saturday's race in Lecanto in 16:05. Chloe Benoist, age 11, of Crystal River, won the women's title in 20:19 among a mixed field of 280 runners. Dunedin's Bonnie Theall won the women's 60-64 division in 27:26. And Jeanne Townsend of the St. Pete Mad Dogs finished third in the 30-34 age bracket in 21:20.

OUT OF STATE: St. Petersburg's Albert Wieringa was hoping to win his 60-64 age division and dip 1 hour, 30 minutes, at Saturday's prestigious Parkerburg (West Va.) Half-Marathon, where a handsome prize purse attracts the elite from far and wide. On a hilly course, Wieringa heard the PA announcer call out "131" as he crossed the finish line. However, he soon realized that was his bib number. His time was actually 1:28:43, good for first among his peers, which earned him a trophy and check for $60. Kenyans won both the men's and women's divisions.

- Forerunners Mike Coyne, 57, of Newfoundland, and Bill Riley, 71, of Centerville, Mass., won their age divisions at Joan Samuelson's Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, earlier this month. Coyne won in 35:40. Riley won in 42:25, which also was faster than the 65-69 men's winning time. Kenyan Duncan Kibet (27:52) won, as did Luminita Talpos (32:20) of Romania among women.

- On Sunday, five gutsy Pinellas runners took on the Pikes Peak Marathon Ascent in Colorado, 13.3 miles rising to 7,815 feet on a rugged trail.

Cubitt Goodliffe of Dunedin finished in 4 hours, 53 minutes, for 279th place out of 485 women. She was followed by Jennifer Martindale and Dawn Timlin, both from Tarpon Springs, with the same time of 5:17. Kim Murphy of Clearwater finished in 6:25. Thad Crisco (4:56) of Seminole was the only Pinellas man.

- Former Brooksville resident Teresa Vaill will represent the USA at next week's World Track and Field Championships in Osaka, Japan. At age 44, she's the only American woman qualified to compete in the 20K walk.

Olympic marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor qualified in the 10K with a 31:57 at the USA Championships in Indiana earlier this summer. She'll compete Saturday, the same day as the men's marathon. The women's marathon is Sept. 2, the final day. Check your TV guide for coverage.

REFLECTION: "There are four elements to the running experience: competition, contemplation, conversation and companionship." Dr. George Sheehan, medical editor, Runner's World, Jan. 1990.