Tampa, FL. – it was a Monty Python-esque (but winning) day for the Northern Arizona Elite team out of Flagstaff, Arizona at today’s Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic – ”now for something completely different”. While a record 36 inches of snow blanketed Flagstaff, warm and humid conditions tested the fields in today’s half-marathon along Tampa Bay.
Notwithstanding, NAE’s Scott Fauble used a final 400-meter sprint to pull away from defending champion Elkanah Kibet of the U.S. Army’s WCAP Program, to take the $8000 first place purse in 1:05:09, four seconds up on Sgt. Kibet. On the women’s side, fellow NAU runner Aliphine Tuliamuk dominated her competition, taking the win in 1:12:29 nearly 2 minutes ahead of Boulder Colorado’s Becky Wade in second. Both NAE athletes are preparing for a spring marathon, Fauble in Boston on April 15, Aliphine in Rotterdam in six weeks time.
- Fauble Finishes First
- Tuliamuk Dominates
Tampa, Fl. — Finishing under a warm butterscotch sun three-time U.S. Olympians Dathan Ritzenhein and Jen Rhines captured top honors today at the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic Half Marathon. Dathan and Jen both broke year-old course records in the process, Ritz’s 1:03:17 erasing Ryan Vail’s 1:04:09 from 2014, while Rhines’ 1:12:35 white-outed Lindsey Scherf’s 1:13:08 from the books. They each won $8000 for their victories, as well. But how they won their titles, ah, that is where their stories diverge.
The men lit out into the pre-dawn darkness at a modest pace under calm but humid 57 degree temps. A pack of seven soon formed as the course led over the bridge onto Davis Island for the first five miles. Four-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman, just back from a six week training stint in Ethiopia, established the pace with Americans Ritz, Fernando Cabada, Ian Burrell, Brett Gotcher, Carlos Trujillo and 22 year-old Tampa resident Brian Atkinson all in easy contact. Mile two passed in a desultory 10:06, perfect from the Ritzenhein standpoint.
“The slower the better as far as I’m concerned,” Ritz told me during a chat on Friday. “I haven’t rested for this at all, and would rather not have to press early.”
Ritz is gearing up for his first run at the Boston Marathon on April 20, and only decided to run Gasparilla on Monday as record cold temperatures descended on his upper Midwest home in Rockford, Michigan.
“It had been a pretty good winter till the first of the year,” Ritz laughed. “But I’ve only had one long run outside since. You can tough it out, or I could have stayed indoors at Grand Valley State (where Ritz volunteer coaches), but I needed a longer rhythm run, and that wasn’t possible. So I decided to come down.” Continue reading
Tampa, Florida — For native Floridians 43F might feel a tad chilly, but for the thousands of snowbirds watching Weather Channel reports of record cold and snow back home, 43F can seem downright balmy. So when long-time Gasparilla Distance Classic announcer Phil Stewart came dressed for the 38th annual winter classic dressed in a pair of chino shorts this morning , I was a bit surprised given that I, a wimpy Californian, arrived swaddled in four layers and gloved up like a member of Admiral Perry’s expedition to the pole.
Phil, myself, and Runner’s World Magazine maven Bart Yasso were working together to inform and (hopefully) entertain the crowds lining the Bayshore Boulevard finish at today’s Gasparilla 15K and 5K, day one of the weekend long Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic. Tomorrow’s 8K and half-marathon promise temperatures at least 10-12F higher for the 6 a.m. half-marathon start and downright waxy by midday as the final 8K finishers complete their journey.
In today’s 15K defending champion Jon Mott overcame a strong challenge from 2014 runner up Rafal Matuszcak to take his third Gasparilla 15K title since 2012 (he finished 2nd in 2013). Last year Mott bested Matuszcak by 20-seconds with a 48:44 clocking. This year Matuszcak challenged Mott all the way to the line, but came up five-seconds short, 47:49 to 47:54, in the excellent racing conditions.
Hanson Brooks Distance Project runner Megan Goethals dominated the women’s 15K. Her 52:07 took top honors by 3:50 over runner up Rebecca Howarth, 56:07.
Over 30,000 runners have signed up for the four weekend races, today’s 15K & 5K, and tomorrow’s half-marathon & 8K. All four races, in fact, sold out, a testimonial to 23 year race director Susan Harmeling and her staff who brought back pro racing to Gasparilla last year after dropping the top division following the 1997 race. Continue reading
Ryan Vail takes lead in Tampa at mile 12.
Tampa, FL. — The excitement of pro racing returned to the streets of Tampa today, as the once legendary Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic saw spirited competitions mark both the pro men’s and women’s races at the 37th running of Tampa’s premier distance events. It was the first time since 1997 that pro prize money was on offer, and Portland, Oregon’s Ryan Vail and Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Lindsey Scherf came out on top to claim the $80000 first place checks out of a total purse of $40,000. In the 68 degree, 97% humidity conditions Vail’s winning time was 64:06, while Scherf proved her fitness for the March 9th Los Angeles Marathon with a controlled 1:13:07 win. Continue reading
Tampa, Fl. — A temperate 70 degree air temperature was blanketed by 100% humidity today as thousands of runners from the region, state, and nation took part in the 37th running of the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K and 5K along Bayshore Boulevard. Tomorrow, the half-marathon and 8K take center stage.
In the local 15K showcase, in which $10,000 was split between the men’s and women’s divisions, Tampa’s own Jon Mott and Sara Petrick took home the $2000 first prize purses for their respective wins. Both had finished second in 2013. This year Mott’s unofficial time was 48:43, some 53-seconds slower than in 2013, while Petrick posted a 34-second improvement over last year with her unofficial time of 55:47. Mott was challenged early by 19 year-old Polish native Rafal Matuszcak, but pulled away just after the six mile mark, and could cruise home unchallenged, saving himself for a go at the half-marathon tomorrow where he is the defending champ. Continue reading