Tampa, FL – Warm Florida hospitality was matched by warm sub-tropical conditions at today’s Publix GASPARILLA Distance Classic Half Marathon and 8K, day two of a weekend fitness festival now in its 41st year.

US Army sergeant Elkanah Kibet and Redding, California’s Sara Hall took top honors in the two main races. But both had to battle all the way home to take the $8000 first-place prize.  Kibet out kicked University of Oregon grad Parker Stinson 1:03:39 to 1:03:41, while Hall nipped defending women’s champion Stephanie Bruce of Northern Arizona Elite by one second in 1:12:01, stripping 33 seconds off Jen Rhines’ 2015 course record.

“I was going for a breakthrough in the heat,” said Sara in the VIP tent afterward. “We went out easy. I learned my lesson last year in Houston (11th place). Now it’s up to Mammoth Lakes for some altitude training before the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia (Spain) in four weeks.”


In the early morning blush of dawn, women’s leaders Stephanie Bruce, Diane Nukuri, and Dara Hall head out Bayshore Blvd with two men alongside

Both Hall and Bruce are ramping up for a major spring marathon in April, Sara to Boston and Steph in London one week later.

“Anytime I can go toe to toe with Sara it’s a good day,” said Steph who was coming off a third place finish at February’s USATF Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee. “I’ve never beat her, but this was the closest I’ve ever been. I’d say the times were incredible in very oppressive conditions. I feel like I’m knocking on the door.”


Hammering home: Stephanie Bruce leads Sara Hall in the final miles

The men’s race proved just as closely contested with four men locked together as they looped off Davis Island onto Bayshore Boulevard at mile 5. Leading the way was 26 year-old Oregon grad Parker Stinson making his debut run in Tampa.

In his slipstream were Elkanah Kibet, WCAP army teammate Haron Lagat, and Team Run Flagstaff’s Kiya Dandena, a 1:03 half-marathon man from 2017.

Parker Stinson opens an early lead, only to see it dissipate shortly after

Miles along the flat, bayside course began tumbling in the 4:52 – 4:55 range in the still, dark conditions. But throughout the morning, Parker kept surging like an unkinked garden hose, opening a stream of pace before closing back soon thereafter.

“I wasn’t worried about him,” said Kibet, who finished fourth here last year in 64:51. “I was worried about my teammate Haron Lagat because he had the fastest time (61:01 at January’s Houston Half). But I never imagined I could win. I thought number three, but when we dropped the other guy (Dandena), I said maybe number two.”


Kibet and Stinson match strides as Dandena holds in third.

The Kenyan-born soldier stationed in Colorado Springs came into Tampa off so-so races at the USATF Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee earlier this month (13th place), and an 18th place in January’s Houston Half Marathon (62:29).

“I changed my training after that,” he said, specifically adding more fartlek sessions, which helped him withstand the surges thrown in today by Colorado-based Parker Stinson.

After Stinson’s blows dispatched all others on the homeward run up Bayshore, it was Kibet who made a move at 12.5 miles with the finish line approaching fast. Stinson responded to move number one, but the next charge by Kibet proved decisive, opening the margin of victory.

Next up for the champion is next month’s Gate River 15K in Jacksonville before a date with the Boston Marathon in April.

In all, 32,000 runners took part in GASPARILLA 2018, many running Saturday’s 15K and 5K then quadrupling back for today’s half-marathon and 8K.


1. Sarah Hall – 72:01 course record

2. Stephanie Bruce – 72:02

3. Diane Nukuri – 73:05

4. Sydney Devore – 74:21


1. Elkanah Kibet – 63:39

2. Parker Stinson – 63:41

3. Kiya Dandena – 64:09

4. Tyler Pennel – 64:17

5. Haron Lagat – 65:13



Tampa, FL. – Lakeland, Florida’s Jon Mott captured his third GASPARILLA Distance Classic 15K title this morning, touring the flat, Bayshore Blvd out-and-back course in 47:01. In the process, he took the measure of friend, former college teammate, and defending champion Austin Richmond by 11 seconds on a warming Tampa day.

Jon Mot opens wining margin on defending champ Austin Richmond in Mike 8 as early pacesetter Matt Hensley of Boulder, Co. fades in third.

“I executed my plan perfectly,” said 31 year-old Mott after his third GASPARILLA win. “I sat back early and let them duel. Then at the turnaround (25:00) I began pressing. Over the last three miles it was just me and AJ, and I was listening to his breathing. I didn’t do anything in the last four miles, just held 4:58 pace.”

AJ Richmond led the race early with Boulder, Colorado’s Matt Hensley. They blew through mile one in 4:57 with Mott and two-time runner up Rafa Matuszczak of Poland three seconds back. By mid-race the four were together before Mott began his push for home.

Both Richmond  and Mott had won the Gasparilla 15K twice before on the flat, bayside course where five world records had been set in the early years when the 15K was the featured distance at GASPARILLA. Richmond took the title in 2010 & 2017, while Mott won in 2014 & 2015, and finished second to his Webber International University teammate last year.

Jon Mott takes third GASPARILLA 15k title

The 5k will follow the 15K today as temps soar into the low 80s. Then tomorrow the featured half-marathon, opening race of the 2018 PRRO Road Series, will go off at 6 a.m. before an 8K completes the weekend fitness festival. Over 32,000 strong will stride along Bayshore Blvd. for one of road running’s classic events.

A full report on the half-marathon will come tomorrow.   Favorites include 61:01 WCAP Army member Haron Lagat out of Colorado Springs, and 61:44 man Tyler Pennel of Charlotte, N.C.  Defending women’s champ Stephanie Bruce of Northern Arizona Elite will battle, among others,  Redding, California’s Sara Hall, reigning 2017 U.S Marathon champion.


1. Jon Mott – Lakeland, FL. – 47:01
2. Austin Richmond- Babson Park, FL. – 47:12
3. Matt Hensley – Boulder, co. – 47:47
4. Rafa Matuszczsk – POl. – 48:10
5. RJ Dorazil – Tampa, Fl. – 50:48


1. Paige Howard – Tampa, FL. – 57:15
2. Jacki Wachtel – New Port Richie, FL. – 57:57
3. Christa Stephens – St. Petersburg, FL. – 57:57

Legacy runner Tom Singletary of Tampa completes his 41st GASPARILLA.



Sitting in 27c on the aisle with a nice magazine-reading lady on the window. The stream of fellow travelers continue to board the flight for Houston. I chat with one of the flight attendants about general passenger comportment, as she tells tales of one lady too persnickety to accept help in placing her roller bag in the overhead bin. It’s this way with air travel these days, fun for those that don’t do it.

So I’m just waiting for the final section 5 boarders, hoping for someone small and quiet to fill 27b, the middle seat. Then, magically, the head attendant announces over the PA that the front door has closed and locked, and “please direct your attention the TV monitors for an important safety demonstration.”

My row-mate and I glance over at one another with a sly grin betraying our feelings.

“You believe this?” We bump fists. “Here I was hoping for someone small and quiet, and instead we get vacant and non-corporeal.”

Travel as those of only a certain age can remember. Before air travel began to resemble bus travel. Now if only the young guy in front of me in 26c doesn’t lay back into my sternum, I may remember this United flight fondly.






Now most of you are too young to remember, but at one time America flew a man to the moon and back safely – actually, we flew three men to the moon on Apollo 11, but Michael Collins only purchased the Super Saver, middle seat ticket, so he only got a fly-by while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin got to go down and hit balls on the Sea of Tranquility moon-base driving range.

But since we now live in conspiratorial times, let’s give a nod to the outside possibility that America, a well known David Blaine apologist, perpetrated an elaborate hoax in lieu of an actual moon shot, which might have been an even harder trick, come to think of it, what with all the mirrors, sleights of hand, and Cronkite duping that such an elaborate ruse would’ve required.

Whatever the case, because we had accomplished such a seemingly impossible goal, the standard refrain when anything earth-bound and banal was not achieved in an appropriate manner – like taking the trash out on time – was, “if they can put a man on the moon, why can’t you do X?”

It was a simple equivalence on par with parents asking children, “If Johnny jumps off the Grand Canyon, does that mean you have to, too?”  Of course, if parents remembered anything about childhood friendships and double-dares, in fact, it did mean you had to make the leap or forever live in upper-arm-punching ridicule.

But since 1969 we have not been able to plant a dude on the moon – though Elon Musk is taking a Tesla and a crash-test dummy all the way to the sun, though I’m sure we could all nominate a more worthy passenger. Notwithstanding, everything possible today has been reduced by a quarter million miles across the board.

So maybe we shouldn’t be that confounded that we can’t seem to govern ourselves or keep the Russians from choosing our leaders for us. With all the technology that we have at hand, you’d think we could keep track of who had won, even if it’s by one vote. But, evidently, we are a hanging chad or two away from such competence.

Bringing matters into the world of running, we have seen these kinds of problems all the time in NCAA cross country.

The NCAA D1 Cross Country Championships always seem to produce compelling competitions and high drama. But that drama is immeasurably enhanced every few years by the interminable wait for team results. Most famously in 2012, there were all kinds of errors that had officials declaring Oregon as the women’s champs, then Providence, and finally the Ducks one more time after the technology failed to account for several finishers. The grass at the Lavern Gibson XC Course had measurably grown in the interim.

So, what is it with technology that can be so impressive in almost every regard – men to the moon and back without Boingo wifi!? – but it can’t count several hundred runners going 10 mph over an open grass field, or figure out how to protect an election process?

With that in mind, let’s take the outrage down a notch or two and give the kids in Washington a break.  I think a few hours of cable-TV news viewing shows fairly clearly that the phrase “Best and Brightest” is hardly applicable to either end of Pennsylvania Avenue these days.

But when you realize that the USATF Board of Directors can place its president, Vin Lananna, on administrative leave amidst a federal investigation, makes you wonder why can’t we do something similar with our own bossman in D.C. as special counsel Robert Mueller tries to pin down Putin‘s prerogatives.  “Out to pasture” or “To the moon!” both have a nice ring to them, don’t you think?



Austin, TX. – At last week’s Running USA conference in Austin, Texas the question confronting the industry was ‘why the steady slide in road race participation over the last three years, and how to combat it?’

Pricing increases, calendar glut, and competition from other fitness platforms offer some insight into the reasons. But we have gone through almost 50 years of fitness and hard bodies as the Baby Boom generation moved like a cultural pig in a python through the second half of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries.

Perhaps a question to ponder: Was it inevitable that there was going to be a backlash against the Boomer’s cultural impact, and road racing is just another example?  What generation ever wants to do what their parents did?  After all, rock ‘n’ roll was supplanted as the dominant musical expression by hip hop, and the 2018 Winter Olympics ain’t nothing your grandma’s Lake Placid.

“All our events are bucking that trend,” countered High Five Events CEO Jack Murray the day before the 27th Austin Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K. “Our 3M Half (Jan. 21st) was up 1500 this year to 8000. And it was up 1000 last year, too. The Cap 10,000 when we took it over four or five years ago had 13,000, 14,000. Now we have over 20,000.”

One thing Murray has going, as well, is a city experiencing major population growth with a well established running community. According to Census Bureau figures, the Austin area’s population soared 19 percent from 2010 to 2016. During that time, the region added nearly 330,000 residents; close to the number of people living in the entire city of Corpus Christi.

“We also have a team that is up on new ways to attract entrants,” explained Murray. “Early Groupon, give aways, combos. During a 4-day period we donated all registration fees from the 3M Half and the Austin Marathon to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, which totaled around $55,000.

“Today people know what a professional event looks like via social media. So we are competing not just against other running events, but against every other kind of event. And we have to deliver a similar product.”

Tomorrow’s Austin Half Marathon is up 1000 entrants from last year, the 5K another 1000, while the marathon held steady as it introduced a new, faster course late in the sign up period. The prize money had also increased for the second straight year with High Five at the helm.  It is all part of a drive for Austin to host the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials.

The days of out-sized growth in the running industry may be gone, but just as the best runners maintain their careers by an unrelenting attention to detail and process, so, too, must the best events in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

You can watch live coverage of the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon live-streamed on Flotrack.org beginning tomorrow morning at 6:45 am. central time.



Every religion has its Creation story.  All runners do, too. And while most very fast runners generally had their beginnings on organized track teams in school or clubs,  the vast majority of citizen runners we see in weekend races come to the sport later in life.  Personally, I began running because my mother was Polish.

First of all, it wasn’t like Mom had been a runner, or that the Polish people were necessarily fast in the same sense that Central Highland born Kenyans and Asela-generated Ethiopians were fast – although the Poles do have a couple great 800 meter men right now in Marcin Lewandowski and Adam Kszczot.  No, it’s because without realizing it, Mom attached to my small American male body what was considered by my peers to be a girl’s name, a combination that created issues that running seemed to address quite nicely, as in fight or flight.

See, my namesake is Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost items – “St. Anthony,  please, tell God I lost my lunch money.”  Anyway, A-N-T-H-O-N-Y is how we in the West spell that saint’s name. Thus the diminutive becomes TONY. But in Poland, they spell that saint’s name A-N-T-O-N-I.  Accordingly, TONI is what I now had for a handle. And that one single letter difference is why I began running. Continue reading