TAMPA — The University of Tampa's Charles Toledo had no idea how he would fare in the 5-kilometer race of the Gasparilla Distance Classic on Saturday.
"I figured that I would just start off with everybody else and then see how I felt," the 21-year-old said of the 3.1-mile race.
But at the 1-mile mark, Toledo felt strong despite the heat, so he took off.
"It was awful," he said after finishing first among 11,953 runners. "I just wanted it to be over."
Gasparilla's shortest race didn't start until 9:30 a.m. By then, the temperature was in the high 80s and even hotter on the blacktop of Bayshore Boulevard.
"We train at 6 in the morning, when it is cool," said Toledo, who finished in 15:36. "I wasn't ready for this."
More UT: Toledo's teammate Jess Butler, 22, took second in the women's 5K in a personal-best 17:46, a minute behind St. Petersburg's Kristin Wilmot.
"We had the wind in our faces on the way out, and I didn't really notice the heat until the last mile, when the wind was at our backs," she said. "It was tough."
Butler said training in Coral Springs, where her mother coaches high school track, is even hotter and more humid: "So I am kind of used to the conditions."
Butler suffered from anemia in high school then mono in college. "Given the conditions, I'm happy," she said.
Not quite: Bill Rodgers, who won the inaugural Gasparilla Distance Classic in 1978, hoped to cover the course in 69 minutes, but the 64-year-old was "a few minutes off."
"It was a tough run in this kind of heat and humidity," said Rodgers, an Olympian in 1976 whose exact time was unavailable. "It does get harder as you get older. And sometimes it is a victory just to make it to the finish line."
Welcome back: Mary Ellen Lyons collapsed during the 2009 5K. When paramedics arrived, she had no pulse. They performed CPR and rushed her to nearby Tampa General Hospital, and Lyons recovered. Saturday, she and some who saved her walked the 5K course together.