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Teats makes Oldsmar proud in Armadillo Run


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 1, 2001

What better outcome for Oldsmar than to have a city resident win the 19th annual Armadillo Run?

Tony Teats turned the trick last Saturday by outdistancing the field, including 1996 Olympic miler Paul McMullen of Ypsilanti, Mich. Oldsmar Mayor Jerry Beverland, who rode in the lead vehicle, was ecstatic.

"It's fabulous, it's incredible," Beverland said. "Not only is Oldsmar the gem of the West Coast of Florida, it's now the gem of the sports world."

After calming down, Beverland, a former 440-yard runner for Largo High School, said anything that gets the city in the public eye in a favorable light is an asset.

The Armadillo pitted a marathon champion -- Teats, winner of last December's Hops in Tampa -- and McMullen, the USA Track & Field national champ at 1,500 meters in 1995 and '96. McMullen's second win also was the Olympic Trials qualifier in Atlanta, earning him a place on the U.S. team in the Games later that summer.

Teats and McMullen went through the first Armadillo mile in 4 minutes, 50 seconds and the second in 9:52.

"We were neck-and-neck on Shore Drive headed for the turnaround at the power station," Teats said. "I picked up the pace a little, and he didn't go with me. Then at the turnaround, I had enough of a lead that I thought I could win it if I could hold the pace."

That he did, winning handily in 32:02, averaging 5:09 per mile and beating McMullen by 50 seconds.

"The win was special for me because we ran right by my house and the course was along scenic Shore Drive, where I run 5 miles weekday mornings," Teats said. "I was pleased with my time since I'm just getting over bronchitis."

Jeff Delie, 44, of Palm Harbor finished third in 34:31, followed by Brian Scott of Seminole in 35:07.

Judy Maguire of Clearwater, who was the runner-up in the Gasparilla and Unicorn Classic, took the gold-medal position among women with a 36:44. She was followed by Madeleine Zolfo (40:12) of Treasure Island, Mary Ann Protz (41:01) and Jeanne Lesniak (41:01), both of St. Petersburg.

In age-group competition, James O'Berry, a seventh-grader at Baypoint Middle School in St. Petersburg, continued his winning ways this season with a personal-record 37:01 -- a 5:58 per mile pace -- to take the 10-14 division by a whooping 12 minutes. At the other end of the age range, Joe Burgasser, 62, of the Forerunners Club missed winning the 50-and over title by a mere 3 seconds. He clocked in at 37:40, with John Jerome of Tampa winning in 37:37.

5K: The second event on the Oldsmar program saw the return of Lisa Valentine, 39, to the racing scene. The 2000 Olympic marathon trials veteran from Tierra Verde has been sidelined with an injury. She won comfortably in 19:02.

The men's race ended in a rare tie. The co-winners in 17:42 were Neil Van Aurtria of Plainsboro, N.J., and Carlos Carrasquillo of Spring Hill.

NEW YORK CITY MARATHON: Valentine has signed up for the November event. She and Forerunners teammate Christy Phillips, another Olympic trials veteran, have received complimentary entry. GASPARILLA UPDATE: Next year's starting date has been changed from May 2 to Feb. 9. Also, the 15K starting time tentatively is set for 7 a.m., with the 5K at 9 or 9:30.

Mary Delie of Palm Harbor, winner of the masters cup in last month's Gasparilla, travels to Washington on April 8 to run the Cherry Blossom 10-miler. Her husband, Jeff, also will compete.

GATE RIVER RUN: In the national 15K championship earlier this month, former West Florida Y Runners Club president Carolyn Mather won the 50-54 age division in 1:07:52.

In the men's race, Roger Sweeney of Palm Harbor placed second, 55-59, in 1:01:08 -- good for 189th place overall in a field of 8,012. Dave Ebert of Largo wasn't far back, 1:02:07, 33rd in the 40-44 age division and 230rd overall.

Ginger Herring of St. Petersburg finished 10th among women 55-59 in 1:24:52.

UNICORN REVISITED: Cindy Krager of the Forerunners was moved up to third place in the 50-plus women's division after it was discovered that one of the top three in that money position had completed one loop of the two-loop course. Krager finished in 24:52.

SWAMP RUN: Bonnie Theall of Dunedin placed third among 18 women in the March 17th Okefenokee Swamp Run 10K at the gateway to Waycross, Ga. She clocked in at 48:58.

FAREWELL: The Tampa Bay running community lost a popular veteran of the road race scene with the death of Charlie Espy of Dunedin last week.

Espy, 90, founded the cross country program at his alma mater, Iowa Wesleyan, as a senior in 1931. In the spring of that year, he logged a 9:30 in the steeplechase -- a time that the college recently recognized as a standing school record.

That summer, Espy competed in the steeplechase in a regional Olympic tryout, finishing fourth. A second attempt in 1936, with a view toward the Olympic Games in Berlin, also met with disappointment.

Espy went on to the University of Southern California, earning a master's degree in English, which launched him onto a career as a professor at Weber State, the University of Hawaii and Prairie State College. He served as superintendent of schools in Winnebago County, Ill. In 1985, Espy was named Runner of the Year by the Tampa Bay Running Council. In 1999, his club, the West Florida Y Runners, voted to make him its first lifetime member.

He won an age-group (75-79) gold medal in the 1985 World Masters Cross Country Championships in Rome. At 85, Espy took the 3,000-meter event in his division at National Masters Indoor Championships in Greensboro, N.C. Then in July of that year, he captured six medals in the World Veterans Track and Field Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. What stood out about Espy, however, was his perseverance and attitude toward the sport. He had a passion for it, participating whether he finished first or last. He continued to beam and always was upbeat and an inspiration to younger runners.

Espy was an avid golfer and long-time member of Dunedin Country Club.

FESTIVAL OF STATES: Harvey's Festival Run gets underway Monday night at 6:30 at the Pier approach in downtown St. Petersburg.

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