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Blue Moon victor makes right moves

Published November 4, 2007


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

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

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