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Tampa's Terri Rejimbal wins second straight Gasparilla Half Marathon

Deserved rest: St. Petersburg’s Dekin Dorcas, 36, enjoys a cold bottle of water as he cools down after finishing the half marathon.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Deserved rest: St. Petersburg’s Dekin Dorcas, 36, enjoys a cold bottle of water as he cools down after finishing the half marathon.

TAMPA — As the defending Gasparilla Half Marathon champion, Terri Rejimbal knew she would be viewed as a favorite Sunday. And that had the Tampa resident worried.

"I'd rather be the underdog," she said, laughing.

Rejimbal, though, navigated the 13.1-mile course she frequently trains on in a personal-best time of 1 hour, 22 minutes, 18 seconds to claim her second straight title at the Gasparilla Distance Classic.

"I'm just so glad it's over," Rejimbal said. "I was just so nervous. I hate having to defend my title. It puts the pressure on."

Rejimbal, 41, who also claimed the Masters women's title, maintained a comfortable pace throughout, ahead of second-place Jessica Crate, a Melbourne resident who ran 1:23:06.

"Last year, I (ran a personal best) in horrible conditions, so this year was better conditions," Rejimbal said. "I worked for this. It paid off."

Orlando's Steve Curley, 23, took the lead at the 1-mile mark and pulled away to win the men's race in 1:11:47.

A standout at Winter Park Trinity Prep and Villanova, Curley had never won a race longer than 10 kilometers before Sunday. He was a first-time entrant in the Gasparilla Half Marathon.

"I'll be back," he said. "I like it a lot."

Daytona Beach's Henry Melius, 20, claimed second in 1:14:48.

Tampa's Matthew Altimari, 19, had the best finish among bay area racers, 15th in 1:20:15.

Tampa's Anthony Black claimed the men's Grand Masters division. The 53-year-old just beat Barry Lewis of Philadelphia to the line, finishing in 1:21:29.

Tampa's Terri Rejimbal wins second straight Gasparilla Half Marathon 02/28/10 [Last modified: Sunday, February 28, 2010 10:54pm]
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