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Adamich, Batten renew rivalry in Gasparilla


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 4, 2001

Gasparilla 10th-place finisher Tom Adamich could have had an instant flashback of early '80s high school meets while running last Saturday in Tampa along Bayshore Boulevard toward the finish line.

As a former Seminole High School cross country and track runner, he had competed many times against one of the runners at his side -- Clearwater High School grad Keith Batten.

Despite the accumulated fatigue and preference for 5K and 10K events, Adamich held off Batten by 3 seconds with a time of 52 minutes, 51 seconds.

"I couldn't answer the final surge of Keith's running partner, Dror Vaknin, though," said Adamich, 35, a 1984 Seminole graduate. "He left me and Keith at about the 9-mile mark and sprinted in.

"Other than that, no one passed me and I passed no one after the turnaround," Adamich said. "I never looked back, only ahead. That's something coach (Bruce) Calhoun taught me in high school."

Adamich covered the first mile in a conservative 5:40 and 5K in 17 minutes-plus mindful Gasparilla was a long race, longer than his preferred distances.

"I didn't want to go out too fast; I was cautious," Adamich said. "My plan was to run an even pace and just try to enjoy it, which I did.

"I was feeling fatigue the last part of the race, but I held on, helped in part by being right with Keith and Vaknin. That headwind was strong."

By finishing 10th, Adamich, of South Pasadena, was the first Pinellas finisher.

Following close behind was Batten in 11th place, Jeff Delie of Palm Harbor, 13th; Steve Wilcox, St. Petersburg, 17th; and Forerunners teammate Mike Ferreira, 19th.

It was Adamich's third running of Gasparilla. His previous appearances were in 1983 and 1993.

Since moving back to the area from Ohio in January after a 20-year hiatus, he has chalked up 5K victories in the Run With The Nuns in St. Petersburg and the Suncoast Parkway Run in Lutz.

Although Adamich was the No. 1 distance runner at Seminole High, he didn't run competitively during his undergraduate years at the University of Akron.

He then went on to Kent State, earning a master's degree in library science. That led to his present position of catalog librarian at Stetson School of Law.

"I ran all those years up North through the snow and all kinds of weather," said the 5-foot-9 Adamich, who weighs the same 127 pounds he did in high school. "I credit coach Calhoun with instilling in me a love for running.

WOMEN'S RACE: Stetson Law School graduate Laura Drake became only the second runner, male or female, to win the prestigious event three consecutive years.

Grete Waitz of Norway was the other, setting a world record (48:01) in 1980, then winning again in 1981 with a 48:13 and the following year in 48:25.

All those times are faster than the men's winner this year -- Muchapiwa Mazano, 48:50. Waitz, the 1984 Olympic marathon silver medalist, went on to win Gasparilla in '84, '85 and '87.

Clearwater's Judy Maguire, 42, took a step closer to winning the only area race she hasn't won. She finished second to Drake this time after taking third in 1999 and last year. However, Maguire's time of 56:43 last Saturday was faster (57:26) than in '99.

Laure Blume of Pinellas Park finished fourth (57:28), winning her 35-39 age division. Other Pinellas age-division winners were Keswick Christian's Christa Benton, 15-19, who was ninth in 58:46, and Cathy Kalway of Seminole in the 45-49 division, 27th in 1:03:18.

Kalway, 48, a teacher at Fuguitt Elementary School in Largo, ran strong, finishing 10th among Pinellas women.

Positions 4-9 were taken by Liane Rae, Belleair; Christy Phillips, St. Petersburg; Kim Donaldson, St. Petersburg; Patty Farese, North Redington Beach; Donna Nesslar, Largo; and Amy McClenathan, St. Petersburg.

Shirley Taylor of Seminole earned a second-place finish in the 65-69 division in 1:34:57.

LARSON GETS NO. 4: Jim Larson of Clearwater enjoyed liberation from the sharks in the 60-64 division, having turned 65 early last month.

He was able to chalk up his fourth career age-group win, taking the 65-69 class of 44 runners in a time of 1:07:58. That was over 5 minutes ahead of runner-up Jack Taylor of Tampa.

Last year, the competitive 60-64 division was a 1-2 finish by nationally ranked Bill Riley of Marstons Mills, Mass., and Thom Weddle of Burnsville, Minn.

However, this time, Don Ardell of Tampa and Joe Burgasser of the St. Pete Forerunners moved to the forefront with a 1-2, pushing Riley and Weddle back to third and fourth.

Further up the age scale, Jackie Yost of Treasure Island took third in the women's 70-74 division. Her husband, Larry, was 12th among men in the same division.

Pat Fitzgerald of St. Petersburg placed third (1:16:57) among 23 men in that age division, with Al Treichel of Spring Hill winning by over 4 minutes in 1:10:32.

5K: Winners Rolf Steier (15:37) of Temple Terrace and double-winner Drake (17:28) effectively set course records.

The 5K starting line along Brorein Street was extended to minimize congestion, said race director Susan Harmeling. That means their times will stand as records until someone runs faster or the course is tweaked again.

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