CLEARWATER — There were other runners who surged ahead at different points of the 10-kilometer Times Turkey Trot, but Tony Nicolosi kept reminding himself to remain patient.
If he could stay within striking distance of the leaders, he figured, he could catch them later, on his terms.
So Nicolosi, a redshirt senior at the University of Tampa, waited, waited, then won in 31 minutes, 43 seconds.
"I kind of wanted to stay back and make a move at the right spot," said Nicolosi, who ran his first 10K Trot.
Nicolosi, a former standout at Seminole High, was happy to sit in the pack with Jacob Brooks and Nate Holden early. At about the third mile, Nicolosi and Brooks shifted gears. Holden let them drift away.
Brooks threatened to pull away with a solo assault. But Nicolosi eventually reeled him in, and the threat vanished.
"I took the lead on the last mile-and-a-half," Nicolosi said. "I trained hard for this because I wanted it."
Christa Benton, a former Keswick Christian and USF star, won her fifth straight women's 10K in 35:43.
"I've kept a running log and decided to look at it out of curiosity," Benton said. "I had never broke 36 minutes in this race, and that was a good barrier to get."
In the women's 5K, Jacki Wachtel won for the third straight year, this time in 18:06. Her victory came four months after her daughter, Madeline, was born.
"Winning and times do not matter as much, especially when you have a baby," Wachtel said. "Overall, I was pleased, though."
Russell Snyder was the men's 5K champion in 15:10. Nick Ferrer won his seventh straight 1-mile Gobbler (4:43), and Kendra Miller defended her 1-mile title in 6:27.
There were 15,415 runners who hustled out on a chilly morning to participate in the 31st annual event. That's up from the 14,910 who registered last year, race director Skip Rogers said.
Bob Putnam can be reached at [email protected] or ( 727) 445-4169.