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Blue Moon victor makes right moves

Published November 4, 2007

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Surging in races can have two effects.

One is to create significant distance from the competition. The other is to get out of a sustained rhythm and a steady pace that can't be maintained.

That's essentially what happened among the leaders at Saturday's Blue Moon Half Marathon in Dunedin.

Among a lead pack of Mike Weiss of Clearwater, Melanie Peters of St. Petersburg, Norbert Langbrandtner of Austria and Keith Sawayda of Clearwater, the Austrian triathlete - here for the Nov. 10 Ironman World Championship - made several bold moves to forge ahead and take a commanding lead.

Sawayda kept his cool and gradually ate into the lead on the return run from Palm Harbor along the Pinellas Trail.

"At the overpass bridge at Alternate 19, I decided to make a move," said Sawayda, 44, who holds the Turkey Trot 5K masters record of 15:59. "I closed the gap going up the bridge and passed him going down with about 4 or 5 miles to go to the finish line."

Sawayda, a Notre Dame graduate and Boar's Head executive, did better than that, winning in 1:17:09. Weiss, president of the West Florida Y Runners Club, finished third (1:20:27), just behind Langbrandtner's 1:19:45.

Peters, 24, ran strong with the lead pack most of the early miles, maintaining a 6:14 per mile pace throughout, good for first woman in 1:21:39 and fourth overall in the mixed field of 168.

Sarah Neilson of New Hampshire finished second in 1:28:54 followed by Karen Collins of the Forerunners in 1:31:17.

NOTES: In the largest age-group field, 45-49 with 21 women, Carol Bancroft of Safety Harbor edged Terri Doheny of Clearwater with a time of 1:41:50. Dennis Byron (1:25:23) of Safety Harbor was the men's winner in that age division over Jim Burton (1:33:23) of Clearwater. ... In the concurrent 5K race, Seminole High's Joshua Lakhotia won 16:46. Erin Heeder of Clearwater took the women's title in 17:21, finishing third overall in the field of 149.

GREAT WESTCHASE 5K: Lee Fictum of Pinellas Park had to run hard to hold off Dan French, 45, of Brooksville on Saturday morning. Only six seconds separated them as Fictum won in 19:19. Among the top Pinellas finishers, David Meri of St. Petersburg placed seventh (18:27) and Eric Sager of South Pasadena was eighth in 18:29.

Jacki Wachtel of Tarpon Springs, just off a 3:09 marathon in Chicago, won in 18:00 with Vicki Jetton of Dunedin, second in 19:15. Wendy Burgasser of the Forerunners placed seventh in 22:30 and Christine Moorby of South Pasadena was No. 9 in 23:11. In age-group highlights, Jim Hummel of Tarpon Springs won the 45-49 group in 19:30, and coach Joe Burgasser won the men's 65-69 division by 11 minutes in 22:30.

CREAKY BONES 5K: At the St. Petersburg Pier on Friday night, Hank Campbell led the way in 16:55. Brian Scott (17:11) of the West Florida Y Runners Club was second. On the women's side, Carol Glasscock, 40, also of St. Petersburg, ran a swift 19:33 for her win over Alex Gemma (20:02) of South Daytona Beach.

DISNEY MARATHON: Four Pinellas runners made the elite list for the red carpet treatment (all expenses paid) at the Jan. 13 event. They are Melanie Peters plus three Clearwater-based West Florida Y members: club president Mike Weiss, Christa Benton and Albert Wieringa. Benton finished second (2:57:25) in her marathon debut there last January.

TV ALERT: NBC will televise highlights of the 2008 U.S. Men's Olympic marathon team trials at 2 p.m. Saturday. The New York City event includes four loops in Central Park. At 4 p.m., WEDU will televise "Marathon Challenge" until 5. Sunday's New York City Marathon will be shown, tape delayed, by NBC starting at 3 p.m. For more information visit www.ingnycmarathon.org.

[Last modified November 3, 2007, 21:43:59]

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