CLEARWATER — For months, Jon Mott has been running against the clock, brooding over the time standard he needs to qualify for the 2016 Olympic marathon trials.
Mott switched gears Thursday, running the 10K at the 35th Times Turkey Trot in a relaxed pace that was not intended to foster a record-setting time. Instead, he focused on the course, along with surging and other tactical decisions that play as integral roles as speed.
That strategy worked well. Mott, a former standout at Northeast High and Webber International, won the 10K for the second straight year in 31 minutes, 49 seconds.
Mott had planned to skip the race, but he was coaxed into participating by members of the running team he belongs to.
At the start, Mott stayed with the lead pack, but he pulled away by the second mile to win with ease.
"This was more of just a hard tempo run for me," Mott said. "I felt like I had a pretty good chance of winning. I took the lead early and just watched others fall off the pace."
Now Mott will become consumed again with time. He will compete in January in the Houston Marathon, where he hopes to finish in less than 1 hour, 5 minutes, the qualifying standard he needs for the Olympic trials. To prepare, Mott said he will log more than 115 miles a week in the next month.
Sara Petrick has already gone through the grueling preparation needed to compete at the trials. In 2012 she was one of two Floridians who qualified for the women's trials. She didn't finish among the top three to make the Olympic team.
After missing the cut, the former standout at the Academy of the Holy Names and Florida took time off from competitive racing, which included skipping last year's Turkey Trot.
Petrick gradually resumed racing and returned Thursday to win the women's 10K in 37:15. This was Petrick's third Trot title in the past four years.
"I just needed some time away from competitive racing," Petrick said. "It takes a lot out of you mentally and physically to compete at that (Olympic) level. I entered some races just for fun and eased into some of the bigger ones. I would liked to have had a better time (Thursday), but that was tough with the temperature so low at the start of the race."
The temperature was around 35 degrees when the race began.
Petrick is not finished. She plans on running a half-marathon Sunday in Brandon.
Paul McKenna, a Countryside graduate, won the men's 5K Wingding in 15:30. Kerry Allen, a former star at St. Petersburg, won the women's 5K in 17:58.
About 17,100 competed in the four races, race director Skip Rogers said, most wearing hats, gloves and sweaters on a chilly day.
"We had some glitches as far as the official count," Rogers said. "We anticipate there being more runners who participated, which most likely would give us another record.
"That's tremendous considering the cold temperatures."