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Here comes the bride, and in stride

By JOHN SCHWARB
© St. Petersburg Times,
published December 3, 2001

TAMPA -- No matter how many months they have spent planning, most brides and grooms end up running around a bit on the morning of their big day. But 26.2 miles' worth?

David Vigh and Tina Stauffer would not have had it any other way.

For the Fernandina Beach residents, Sunday's Hops Marathon by the Bay was only the second-most significant event of their day. About an hour after they completed the race, the two were married in a small park within sight of the finish line.

"We were just trying to do something easy and simple," Stauffer, 37, said.

Actually, the race-day nuptials seemed quite appropriate given their history. The pair met at the finish line of a race in Jacksonville five years ago, and last year Vigh proposed to Stauffer moments after she finished at the inaugural Hops Marathon.

"When we started talking about planning and where we would get married, every time this came to the top," Vigh, 34, said. "We planned to come back and run this race because we like it so much, and we thought 'Why don't we (get married) at the finish line?' "

Several of the 50 friends and family attending the wedding also arrived in running attire. The bridesmaid, best man and Vigh's sister ran the marathon, and a few friends also came in from out of town for the busy day.

About the only person who looked the part for a wedding was Vigh's brother Rob, an attorney from Brandon who served as the officiant.

"He's the only guy wearing a suit and tie," David Vigh said.

WHEELCHAIR WINNER: A few hours after attending Saturday's U2 rock concert at the Ice Palace, Tampa's Scott Burrows won the division in a personal-best 1 hour, 58 minutes.

Four men competed in the race, which began five minutes before the marathon start. Three competitors used traditional wheelchairs, powering the wheels directly with their hands. Burrows, 36, used a bicycle-like model in which the hands crank pedals to turn the wheels.

For the majority of the race Burrows drafted with friend and training partner David Burton of Tampa, then broke away around the 21-mile marker.

"I left him at Ballast Point, he gave me a high-five and I was like 'I've gotta go, I have too much energy.' "

A TAD WARM, AGAIN: Race director Susan Harmeling said the combined attendance for the marathon, half-marathon and relay was around 4,300, an improvement from last year but not quite as big a field as expected.

One of the primary culprits appeared to be the weather.

Last year's marathon had unseasonably warm weather in the late morning, making things difficult for runners on the course for more than four hours. Sunday a bit of that heat returned after the sun poked through around 8:15.

Area runners appeared to take note, as Friday and Saturday's late registration numbers were not as high as organizers expected.

"I know there were runners in our community that were trained and ready, and they were waiting to see what the temperatures were going to do," Harmeling said. "I can't blame them. I think a lot of the people that might have ran the whole opted the run the half instead because of the (heat)."

The half-marathon drew approximately 2,400 to about 1,800 for the marathon. There were 78 two-man relay teams.

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