Absence of runners helps Rays 5K winner
By DAVE THEALL
© St. Petersburg Times,
A Tierra Verde runner improved from fifth place among women to first at the Rays Run 5K at Tropicana Field on May 26.
Lisa Valentine, however, was quick to dismiss her achievement despite lowering her time from 19:13 to 18:52. "The reason I won this year is because Bea Marie Altieri, Laure Blume and Christy Phillips didn't show up," the 40-year-old marathon veteran said. "But Amy McClenathan was in the field, and she's capable of beating me. One reason I ran faster this year is that I'm healthier; just about over a hamstring injury that took about six months to heal."
Valentine tried to stay with her coach, Joe Burgasser of the Forerunners Club. She did for the first mile in 5 minutes, 42 seconds but couldn't keep up with the 62-year-old veteran as he ran away from her, finishing 10th in 18:21.
She finished 17th in the field of 583, down significantly from last year's record of 843.
Valentine, a former flight attendant, sustained her injury during the Boston Marathon. She ran 2:55:57 there, helping her club to the women's team title for the second consecutive year. That was just two months after her Olympic Trials marathon in Columbia, S.C., in which she ran 2:55:28 in oppressive heat on a hilly course.
"I trained too hard for both of those marathons in terms of volume (100-mile weeks) and too much speed work on the track," Valentine said. "I've cut my volume back to 70 to 80 miles a week training for this fall's New York City Marathon. I'm getting weekly massages and going to the gym regularly for stretching to strengthen my back and abdominal muscles."
For New York, which she will run for the first time, Valentine has a goal of sub-2:46:59. A 2:48 or better would make her eligible for the 2004 Olympic Trials.
She and Phillips, who ran 1-2 among women at the 1999 Tucson (Ariz.) Marathon, received complimentary entry and elite starting-line status among an expected field of 30,000. RAYS RUN NOTES: McClenathan, 41, held on for second place among women in 19:25, followed by a third masters Forerunner, Mary Ann Protz, 45, of St. Petersburg.
Scott Winnier, a part-time resident of the city, won the men's title in 16:10. He's a former Lakewood High and Auburn University track and cross country runner. ... Winnier was followed by Greg Walker of Bradenton, David Meri of Seminole, Tom Adamich of South Pasadena, Jim Burgasser of St. Petersburg and Matt Mosby, a senior to be at Shorecrest Prep. LAST WEEKEND: The Whaley brothers of Bonita Springs, part of the USF track team, ran 1-2 at Friday night's Spartan Sprint 5K at the University of Tampa. Matt won in 15:52, and Mike took second in 16:22. Keith Batten of Clearwater, a former USF track team captain and later an assistant coach, was a second back in third.
As McClenathan approached the finish line, steps away from a win, she raised her arm to turn off her stop watch. But Katie Montague of Tampa slipped past her to snatch the win by a fraction of a second. She was credited with an 18:56.
Melissa Kotchman, 13, of Seminole, captured third out of 296 finishers in 18:56 followed by Protz in 19:22.
Saturday at New Port Richey, Terry Wyman won the 5K in the YMCA World's Largest Run series in 18:17 in a field of 132.
Masters division honors went to Tom Condra (21:25) of Clearwater. Melissa Tuccio won (19:14) the women's division with masters runner Vicky Greenwood second (22:17). Both are from New Port Richey.
SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS: The West Florida Y Runners Club awarded $7,500 in scholarships at its annual meeting and banquet May 27.
Christa Benton, a five-time state champion in track and cross country at Keswick Christian, headed the field, receiving $2,500. Of that, $500 was donated by club member Martha Pembroke in the name of Charlie Espy, who died on March 21. Benton will run for South Florida next fall.
The other winners and their colleges are: Clearwater Central Catholic's Janet Howard ($2,000), Florida State; St. Petersburg Catholic's Mike Craig ($1,000), North Florida; Seminole High's Anthony Espaillat ($1,000), Central Florida; Largo High's Danny Bauer ($500), West Florida; and Seminole's Jackie Magee ($500), Central Florida.
The club also elected new officers for two-year terms. They are Linda Schumacher, president; Karen Farnum, vice president; Coleen Scott, treasurer and Duncan Cameron, secretary.
The club's summer beach series gets under way at 7 p.m. Friday at Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach. A free kids run mile will be at 6:45. Other events in the 5K series will be held June 22, July 6, July 20 and Aug. 3. For more information, call Dan Boyle at 736-3562.
NATIONAL SCENE: Collette Liss of Indianapolis won Sunday's prestigious Freihofer's Run for Women 5K in 15:47, a 5:06 per mile pace. She won $7,000 in a field of 3,000 runners.
Former Gasparilla winner Judi St. Hilaire of Massachusetts was fifth, winning the masters title in 16:18. She was a 1992 Olympic finalist in the 10,000 meters. Internationally, Bonnie Theall completed the May 20 Copenhagen (Denmark) Marathon in 4:36. Her 55-59 age division was won by a Dane in 3:08.
TV ALERT: On Sunday, ESPN2 is scheduled to carry the adidas/Oregon track meet at 12:20 p.m. CBS will show the NCAA Championships at 2 p.m., and the U.S. Open at 5 p.m. All will be tape-delayed.
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