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Ferreira manages a superb finish in Boston Marathon


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2000

A marathon can be approached like a management project.

You set a realistic goal, develop a plan to reach that goal, execute the plan (train), and eventually reach the goal.

That's basically how St. Petersburg's Mike Ferreira took aim at the 104th Boston Marathon two weeks ago. The result was successful and gratifying.

Not only did he improve by more than 8 minutes from his first marathon last December, but his time of 2:37:32 earned him 98th place in the field of 16,127 starters and recognition as the first Florida finisher.

(Note: The two runners listed ahead of him in published results, supposedly from Tampa, are from Costa Rica and South Africa. They are represented by athletes agent Luis Posso of Tampa, who filed their entry forms.) Coming off a solid training base and seven weeks of averaging 100 miles, Ferreira was ready for the challenge.

"I wanted to average 6 minutes through the hills," said Ferreira, 35, a member of the Coast Guard stationed at the St. Peterburg-Clearwater Airport. "I was blazing by people, just running an even pace and staying focused; I felt strong.

"My strategy was to stay on pace through the Newton hills, including Heartbreak, then pick up the pace running 5:40 or 5:45 miles over the last 10K, but the wind didn't allow that to happen. When I hit that wind it kicked my butt."

Ferreira, 5 feet 9 and 158 pounds, said he drew strength and encouragement from the masses of people who line the 26-mile route cheering the runners.

"I even had a large family delegation at the finish area from my hometown of Portsmouth, R.I., which I appreciated," he added. "And I couldn't have done it without the coaching of Joe Burgasser of the Forerunners and the support of "Boston Bill" Hansbury of St. Petersburg.

"Eventually I'd like to break 2 hours, 30 minutes. I'll assess things as I go. My next marathon may be the Marine Corps in Washington or the Tampa Bay Marathon here in December. I plan to do only two or three quality marathons a year. I haven't realized my potential."

The Forerunners men's team, rounded out with Jeff Delie (2:40:55) and Jim Bumbul (2:41:30), totaled 7:59:57 to finish 11th of 142 teams.

MORE TEAMS: The Forerunners women successfully defended their title among 74 teams. Christy Phillips (2:52:21) led the way, followed by Kim Bruce (2:54:17) and Lisa Valentine (2:55:17). They beat the runner-up Valley Forge Striders by 14:49.

Phillips, coming off a 2:51 marathon just seven weeks before at the Olympic trials, said she would liked to have gone under 2:50 but it wasn't in the cards.

"It was tough with the wind and the cold conditions out there," she said. "And I think I went out too fast, which is easy to do at Boston. I ran the first half in 1:23 and the second in 1:29. Those splits should be more even.

"But I ran my fastest of four Bostons by 3 minutes so I'm happy, especially for the team win. As Lisa (Valentine) said, that's what kept us going over the last miles -- the prestige and honor of winning the team title."

Phillips was actually ahead of Ferreira at the 5K mark, 18:52 to 19:02. She covered 10K in 38:15 and 15K in 58:13. Her net time, based on her computer chip, was 2:52:17, so she only lost 4 seconds getting to the starting line at Hopkinton en route to a 31st-place finish among women.

Not only did the three Forerunners finish among the top 100 women, Sandy Shelton of St. Petersburg finished 61st in 3:00:55, a 32-minute marathon improvement, and Laure Blume of Largo finished 69th in 3:02:01.

Shelton said her goal was only to break 3:10, but her hard training over the past two months helped, including hill training on the Misener Bridge at Pinellas Point and at Saint Leo.

"I surprised myself," said Shelton, a former track standout at Gulf High. "I finished strong, covering the last few miles under 7 minutes."

Amy McClenathan paced the Forerunners masters women's team to a seventh-place finish among 31 teams with a 3:08:43.

Burgasser finished second among men 60-69 in 3:03:26 while pacing the Forerunners masters team. Bill Riley of the St. Pete Mad Dogs finished fourth in that division in 3:06:13.

BOSTON NOTES: Noora Alidina, 43, of the West Florida Y Runners Club improved to 3:22:04 with a chip time of 3:19:44. Five days later, she won her age division in the Hare Racing 5K in Tampa in 21:45.

Steve Wilson of Clearwater covered the first 5K in 16:01, running in the lead group with the Kenyans, but shortly after 10 miles he pulled out with a calf problem.

Mary Hanlon of the Forerunners, who was scheduled to anchor the masters team, went to Boston hoping to run but decided at the last minute to hold off due to foot problems.

OTHER RACES: At the Hare Racing 10K, Steve Brace of Wales won in 33:59 over David Avila (34:10) of Clearwater. In the women's division, Judy Maguire, 41, won with a 37:16 over Jeanne Lesniak's 40:22.

Raymond Friedman of Tampa won the 5K (15:53) and Brace's wife, Jacki, won the women's title in 19:48.

Seminole High's Joe Van Asten and Largo's Donna Nesslar were winners of the April 15 Seminole Stampede.

At the April 15 Run in the Woods at East Lake, Karen Alexeev, 47, of Gulfport prevailed in the women's field, covering the cross country course in 22:32. Brian Timmons, a senior at Clearwater Central Catholic High, won overall in 17:46.

Turkey Trot race director Skip Rogers and Dick Buckley of Dunedin completed the Paris Marathon on April 9 among a field of 30,000.

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