Despite tornado warnings and a day's worth of rain, about 150 runners showed up at Tampa Stadium last Saturday evening for an 8K (5-mile) road race. Proceeds went to help grant terminally ill children a last wish.
The race started at the south side of the stadium and then sloshed a figure-eight pattern through nearby Horizon Park.
St. Petersburg's Anthony Sullivan easily won in 28:08, impressive considering that Saturday morning he also won the Pass-a-Grille Beach 5K in 18:30.
"The time is great for this time of the year," said Sullivan. "I'm training for a marathon and these races are my interval workouts."
Habitual fast-starter Vinny Hernandez led early and then faded to take second in 29:12. Hernandez was the overall male masters winner.
Three very tough women from the Fleet Feet Team took first through third. Training partners Ann Russo, Ann Cihak and Carol Fox swept in a way that made their coach, Bill Strack, very proud.
"The girls have been consistent in their training, and I guess all the hard work is paying off," said Strack.
"We're the Ann-imals," said Russo, of Tampa, referring to herself and Cihak. "We like to hang out and train with the group at Fleet Feet. It's part social and part serious. We do have a good time though."
"We don't just run," said Cihak, of St. Petersburg, "We do other stuff like water ski and skate."
Russo was the overall winner in 33:27. Cihak took second, but her time was not available due to a breakdown in the timing clock. Fox was third and won the women's master division.
High schooler Joe Zendajas, who normally competes for Plant, won the 15-19 age group in 31:32. It seemed odd that in the middle of cross country season he would be competing on the roads.
"I'm in trouble right now with coach Harrison for wearing one of our new team jackets to school," said the penitent Zendajas. "I know I did the wrong thing. He's a great coach. I pester him a lot, but I love him and I hope he forgives me and lets me back on the team." The Plant boys are currently ranked sixth in the state.
Another division that race directors might consider adding is that of mothers who push their kids in strollers the entire way.
Safety Harbor's Suzanne Brosseau placed second in the 35-39 age group in 38:45, and did so while pushing Billy, 4, and Katie Ann, 11 months, through the mud and grass of Horizon Park.
"Well, I'm a single mom and I don't have a babysitter to watch the kids while I run," said Brosseau. "I'm as serious as anyone else about racing, I just bring the kids along. They really enjoy it."