Suncoast 10K winners from abroad

By Dave Theall, Times Correspondent
Published February 24, 2008

ST. PETERSBURG - There was a strong international flavor Saturday at the Suncoast Classic Run for Kids 10K.

Canadian Adam Hortian narrowly won the men's title over 2007 winner Ryan Woods of Daytona Beach, and Firaya Sultanova, 46, of Russia took the women's title by a wider margin over training partner and fellow countrywoman Madezhda Tuptova, who now lives in Gainesville.

The back-and-forth battle for first during the 6.2-mile downtown course, which circled Mirror Lake, took its toll on Hortian, 23, who staggered over the finish line and had to be helped to a sitting position. A native of Waterloo, Ontario, Hortian averaged pace of 5:05 per mile for a 31:31 clocking, holding off Woods (31:42) as they finished at BayWalk.

"It's been a long while since I had to push that hard in a race," said Hortian, a USF graduate student who ran for Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. "That and the high humidity really took its toll on me."

Hortian qualified for the Canadian Olympic team trials in the 1,500- and 5,000-meter events.

St. Petersburg's Christa Benton (37:11) broke up the Russian contingent of three elite runners by taking third place over former Olympic marathon gold medalist Valentina Yegorova (39:34).

In the 5K, Melanie Peters, a USF St. Petersburg grad student, picked up an easy win. She passed the top two Russians near the 3-mile mark before turning toward the finish line. She crossed in 17:47, well ahead of Amy Schneeberg (18:21) of Kingston, Ontario, and Vicki Jetton (19:07) of Dunedin.

Ken Jesensky, a former Florida State runner, won the men's 5K in 15:26, holding off Mark Stallings (15:41) of Lancaster, Pa., and Jon Mott (15:52) of St. Petersburg.

Zoo Zoom 5K: Lee Rietsma (16:47) of Tampa and Heather Soltis (20:44 ) of Lutz won the race at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.