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Benton cruises to Race for Cure win
By DOUG KATES, Times Correspondent
Published October 7, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - There was never a doubt in Christa Benton's mind that on Saturday morning, she was going to participate in the ninth annual Susan G. Komen Florida Suncoast Race for the Cure.
But minutes before the start of official activities, Benton did change her mind about one thing. While loosening up for the annual fun walk, the two-time defending 5K race champion decided to run instead.
Eighteen minutes later, she was crossing the finish line first for her third title in the women's division.
"I'm suppose to be taking a little down time right now," Benton said. "But it was always in the back of my mind."
Benton was told by a personal coach to take it easy this weekend, but she admitted the competitive juices got going and she had to run.
Benton of St. Petersburg crossed the finish line in 18 minutes, 20 seconds, which was 40 seconds ahead of Vicki Jetton of Clearwater. Donna Nesslar of Largo was third (20:35), Carol Glasscock of St. Petersburg was fourth (20:42), and Elaine Nicholson of St. Petersburg was fifth (21:07).
On the men's side, champion Keith Batten of Clearwater was using the cancer-awareness event to get back into racing. His goal was to run equal times on the first and second halves of the course, but found that a slight breeze made it more work than expected.
"I haven't raced in a while," he said. "The goal was to put a solid effort in. I wanted to be patient, but it went harder than I thought."
Batten finished in 16:51 and was followed by Mickey Hooke of Bradenton (17:32). Dave Meri of St. Petersburg was third (18:22), Paul Hough of Tampa fourth (18:40), and Rick Brown of Valrico fifth (18:47).
Benton said she ran the race in honor of cancer survivors everywhere. Approximately 12,000 people felt the same way as the 5K race and fun walk attracted about the same crowd as last year.
Organizers hoped to raise $1-million. A final tally will be released at the end of the month.