Friday, October 19, 2018

Sara Hall sets course record in women’s Gasparilla half-marathon

TAMPA — Stephanie Bruce returned Sunday to defend her title at the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic half-marathon. She ran a blistering pace, shaving 50 seconds off her time from last year to finish well under the course record.

Still, it was not enough to maintain the record or her title.

Running by her side throughout the race was Sara Hall, a veteran distance runner. Hall surged ahead in the last 200 meters to win in one hour, 12 minutes, finishing one second ahead of Bruce.

"It was great to get into a good groove with Steph," said Hall, 34. "I was leading the first part, and she was pushing the second part. She was strong out there."

Hall, the wife of retired U.S. distance running star Ryan Hall, was running in the Gasparilla half-marathon for the first time. She came with impressive credentials, setting personal records in a half-marathon (1:09.37) and marathon (2:27.21) in European races this past fall.

Bruce, 34, had put together strong performances, too.

Her 2017 Gasparilla title was the first time she had run a half-marathon in two years and came a little more than a year after giving birth to her second child.

Bruce continued to amp up her training. The results showed. She finished third at the U.S. Cross Country Championships earlier this month.

Because of their penchant for posting fast times, it was widely assumed the two would have a shot at breaking the course record of 1:12.35 set three years ago by Jen Rhines, a three-time Olympian.

"I thought with this incredible field it would probably take that (a course record) to win," Hall said. "I also didn't know what 90 percent humidity would feel like, so you never know. I think the way we ran it was smart with both of us maximizing our time by running steady."

Hall used the Gasparilla half-marathon as a tuneup for the Boston Marathon on April 16. She has run in a series of races, from half-marathons to marathons, all while logging 120 miles a week.

The volume of miles is part of the preparation, mentally and physically.

"Part of the marathon buildup is you're running on tired legs," Hall said. "You have to always convince yourself there's more there. In a marathon, the first half tires you out and then you have to tell yourself there's another gear there."

From the start, Hall and Bruce clearly formed their own lead pack. But it was hard to determine the leader, with each trying to shake off the other. One runner would gain a slight advantage, only to see it disappear.

Hall pushed the pace early. Bruce came roaring back.

By the home stretch, they were nearly side-by-side. That's when Hall, a seven-time All-American at Stanford, leaned on her track experience to unleash a kick strong enough to move ahead and stay there in the final 200 meters.

"I just went into track mode at the end," Hall said. "I was a track runner for a long time, and it makes it exciting for the crowd to have such a close finish at the end."

By winning the 13.1-mile race, Hall received $8,000 (as did men's champ Elkanah Kibet) and automatically qualified for the PRRO Championship Race, also known as the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile, on April 8 in Washington DC.

But Hall has eyes trained far down the road.

"I like to run a series of half-marathons to get ready for a big race," Hall said. "I'll run the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain, in about four weeks (March 24). Sometimes you feel good, sometimes you feel terrible. But the focus is definitely Boston."


Football: Plant City 24, Bloomingdale 10

PLANT CITY — After a holding penalty around midfield, Plant City faced a big third and long late in the fourth quarter against district foe Bloomingdale. The Raiders had led all night, but now they were up by just one score, and the Bulls defense was...
Updated: 7 minutes ago

Football: Steinbrenner 35, Alonso 19

TAMPA — Haden Carlson threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as Steinbrenner held on to defeat Alonso in a wild Class 8A, District 6 matchup that featured 28 penalties for nearly 300 yards, five turnovers, multiple ejections and a pair of sa...
Updated: 11 minutes ago

Football: Newsome 49, Palm Harbor University 16

PALM HARBOR — Just imagine if Newsome had its full arsenal of weapons.Considering the 49-16 hurting the Wolves put on district foe Palm Harbor University on Friday, it’s hard to believe the visitors came into the game missing their top rusher in seni...
Updated: 21 minutes ago

Football: East Lake 20, St. Petersburg (OT)

ST. PETERSBURG — Sitting outside the playoff picture and trailing 14-3 late in the third quarter, East Lake knew it needed to buckle down to have any hope of making the playoffs this season.And after a furious comeback, Micah Abraham, Isaac Gibbs and...
Updated: 26 minutes ago

Football: Largo 49, Northeast 21

ST. PETERSBURG — Largo saw a 35-7 fourth-quarter lead suddenly become 35-21 with 5:43 left in the game Friday. Vikings running back Qezzy Guyden scored twice in less than two minutes. The first came on a 3-yard run, and the second followed a fumble r...
Updated: 30 minutes ago

Football: Land O’Lakes 49, Pasco 18

DADE CITY — Land O’Lakes jumped out to an early 21-0 lead on Pasco on Friday night and dominated from there, cruising to a 49-18 victory.The Gators (5-2) got another strong night from senior Kyle Leivas, who ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns. Af...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Football: Plant 42, Freedom 3

TAMPA — Plant bested Class 7A, District 8 opponent Freedom 42-3 behind six turnovers from its defense and three touchdown passes from junior quarterback Tucker Gleason.The Patriots (3-6, 1-4) ate up six minutes on their opening drive that lasted 10 p...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Injuries could give Bucs rush end Noah Spence opportunity vs. Browns

Injuries could give Bucs rush end Noah Spence opportunity vs. Browns

TAMPA — Noah Spence walked off the field Friday afternoon dripping with sweat. His practice jersey was a darker shade of red, the result of another day of work trying to get back on the NFL radar.Bucs coach Dirk Koetter lauds the defensive end'...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Football: Calvary Christian 48, Carrollwood Day 14

TAMPA — Have firepower, will score.That was Calvary Christian’s calling card Friday night as it piled up 41 first-half points in a 48-14 victory against Carrollwood Day in a Class 2A game.The Warriors (4-4) benefited from the return of several player...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Football: Zephyrhills Christian 26, Fort Meade 14

ZEPHYRHILLS — Even with four starters out with injuries and freshman Caleb Gaskin making his first career start, Zephyrhills Christian kept rolling. Javion Hanner scored on touchdown runs of 84 and 39 yards as ZCA defeated Fort Meade 26-14 at Paul L....
Updated: 1 hour ago