By DAVE THEALL
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 3, 2000
Afunny thing happened to Largo High School June graduate Nate Davis on his way to the finish line at the July 21 Pier 60 race at Clearwater Beach.
After easily winning the first three races in the series, Davis had serious competition throughout the length of the 5-kilometer out-and-back course along the shoreline.
Davis, who reports to Florida State on August 20, knew he was in for a race when he couldn't shake the unknown runner during the first or second miles.
Mickey Hooke of Bradenton was the beach series first-timer -- a 39-year-old whose credentials include a sixth-place finish at the Times Turkey Trot 5K last fall, a second at the Strawberry Classic 10K in Temple Terrace last winter, fifth at the Road Runners Club of America State Championship 5K in Largo in March and an overall win at the Sea Fest 5K at Cape Canaveral in May.
Hooke's best 5K time is 16:09, which he set on the Daytona International Speedway in April.
But beach running is a lot different than road running or the oval track, and that's where Davis' experience helped him.
"I pushed hard just after the turnaround point but still couldn't shake him," Davis said of Hooke. "I'm thinking "how good is this guy? I've never seen him before. If I'm going to win this race, I'm going to have to work."'
With a half mile to go, Hooke put in a surge to take the lead and force Davis to make the next move.
"He started to get away from me, but no more than 5 feet or so," Davis said. "I was hoping I could just stay there till we got to within 100 yards or so where I could rely on my 1,600-meter speed."
Davis' hopes turned to reality. He unleashed a finishing kick over the last 100 meters to snatch a victory by a mere two seconds. A time of 17:09 was the best mark on the course by 10 seconds for the winner of conference, district and regional 1600-meter titles for Largo High.
"We helped each other there," said Davis, who earned all-county first-team honors in cross country last fall. "He's tough. I hope he comes back for the final race in the series this Friday night. If he's there, and my high school teammate Danny Bauer, it should be fun."
NOTE: New Florida State coach Bob Braman, who had been at South Florida, gave a summer training schedule to Davis that calls for 60 miles a week.
Davis said he's exceeded the schedule in preparation for a four-mile team trial race on Aug. 24 that initially will determine the Seminoles' varsity squad.
Davis will room with Palm Harbor University grad Andy Myers. They finished 12th and 13th, respectively, at last fall's state Class 3A cross country championship.
Davis received a $2,000 college scholarship last May from the West Florida Y Runners Club, the organizers of the Sunsets at Pier 60 Beach Series.
MORE RESULTS: The next three places after Hooke in the Pier 60 race were won by teen-age runners. Kevin Lyons, 15, a sophomore at Clearwater Central Catholic, edged Shorecrest Prep's Matt Mosby, 17, by a second for third-place time of 17:26. Wes Valcarcel, 18, of La Plata, Missouri, finished fifth in 17:38.
On the other end of the age spectrum, Judy Maguire, 41, of Clearwater's Dianetics Running Team won her fourth consecutive women's title, clocking in at 18:45 for 14th place overall.
In hot pursuit were two-time Pinellas cross country Runner of the Year Christa Benton, 16, of Keswick Christian in 19:09; Donna Nesslar, 37, Largo, 20:17; Kit Van Allan, Palm Harbor, 35, 20:41; and Kate Bowman, 18, Austin, Texas, 21:26. The final race in the series is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday. It will be followed by an awards presentation and preceded by a free 1-mile event for kids and others. For information about the event, call director Dan Boyle, 736-3562.
STRANGEMAN'S 5K: The July 29 race from the Palm Pavilion at Clearwater Beach saw Tony Teats of Hartford City, Ind., run away from the field in a performance of 16:18. He won the 1998 Midnight Run in Dunedin in a swift 31:47.
David Avila of Clearwater was the Strangeman runner-up in 17:46, followed by John Walters (18:30) of Riverview.
In the women's division, Debby Farias of Indian Shores took first in 23:36 followed by Sarah Geigle (25:09) of Largo and Kim Langevin (25:18) of Dunedin.
OLYMPICS: The Associated Press reports that Ondoro Osoro, who set a world record (45:37) for 10 miles at the 1997 First of America Running Festival in St. Petersburg, has been replaced on the Kenyan marathon team by 2000 Boston Marathon winner Elijah Legat. Osoro was shot in the neck by carjackers last month.
Providence graduate Amy Rudolph, a former American recordholder in the 5,000 meters, will replace Deena Drossin at the Olympics in that event. Drossin finished second in the Olympic trials but has opted to run the 10,000, the event she won at the trials in 31:51. Rudolph, a 1996 Olympian, finished fourth at the trails in the 5K.
Anne Marie Lauck, a former third-place finisher at Gasparilla, has hopes of making it to Sydney despite a non-qualifying third-place finish in the women's marathon, a fourth in the 10,000 and a fifth in the 5K.
After 36.6 miles of competition, the 10th-place finisher at the 1996 Olympic marathon could go in the 5K if Regina Jacobs choses to run the 1,500 only. Jacobs won that event and the 5K at last month's trials in Sacramento.
HOT OFF THE PRESS: The Running Times Guide To Breakthrough Running has just been released by Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc. It consists of 29 sections written by various experts who serve as guides to give runners at every level the tools to get to the next level.
Former New York City Marathon winner Tom Fleming writes about "The Art of Peaking," Olympic marathoner Anne Audain writes about "The Need for Rest and Recovery," and Olympic marathon record-holder Joan Benoit Samuelson writes about "Balancing Your Energies."
Other authors include coach Roy Benson, Dr. Andy Palmer and Running Times editor Gordon Bakoulis.
Khalid Khannouchi, the marathon world recordholder, said: "This book is an invaluable guide for all runners who embrace the challenges and rewards of doing their best while continuing to enjoy a lifetime of healthy running."
The book is available at all major book stores for $19.95 or from Human Kinetics on the Internet at www.human kinetics.com. COMING UP: The Twilight 5K will be held at USF's Track Stadium in Tampa on Aug. 18 at 8 p.m. For details, call (813) 971-4095.