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Anderson defends women's 5K crown

Last year's Gasparilla 5K champion, Susan Anderson, made it two in a row with an easy win in 18:07.

"I wanted to win this and do it relaxed, not get nervous with the idea of defending a title," the Tampa Palms resident said.

Anderson led from the start and was never seriously challenged. Erin Giesa, 13, of Clearwater, surprised a few people by taking second in 19:11. Giesa is a seventh-grader at Safety Harbor Middle School and her favorite subject is math.

Rounding out the top 10 were bay area finishers Erica Thiemann of Palm Harbor, fourth in 19:27; Jennifer Hoke of USF, fifth in 19:32; Caroline Annis of Palm Harbor, ninth in 20:32; and Dot DiClemente of St. Petersburg, who finished 10th in 20:40.

In the men's race, Ronnie Holassie of Trinidad by way of Miami, blasted from the start with a 4:32 opening mile, which kept the rest of the field away. Holassie continued the pressure until he hit the tape in 14:46.

South African Michael Meyer, husband of women's 15K winner Elana Meyer, was a game second in 15:16. Scott Griffith of Clearwater was eighth in 16:11 and was followed closely by Hernando prep runner Sean McManus who was ninth in 16:19.

Nearly 7,000 runners competed in the 5K.

Australians sweep

wheelchair event

Australian wheelchair racer Paul Wiggins was victorious over an international field of wheelchair racers in 32:09 at the $15,000 Gasparilla wheelchair race in downtown Tampa.

Wiggins, who placed eighth in Friday's Prolog time trial, won the lead pack's sprint for the finish after making several attempts to break away, including one effort at the winding turnaround on narrow streets at Gandy and Bayshore boulevards.

Strong tailwinds on Bayshore Boulevard saw elites Jan Mattern and Bob Molinatti force a fast pace, up to 35 mph on the way out, heading southbound. A pack of 15 racers developed and held its {-mile lead, despite attempts to break free by Canadian Jeff Adams and Wiggins.

Second place went to Tom Sellers of Ormond Beach and third to Phillippe Couprie of France. Sixty athletes competed.

Top master Andre Vigre won a special cash prize called a prime as he soloed ahead to merge with the Open Men on Bayshore at mile two. Vigre held his strong lead to win the masters category and the $1,000 first prize.

An Australian one-two was complete after Louise Sauvage powered away from the women's wheelchair field to win in 35:57.

A photo-finish sprint for second place was won by Connie Hansen, of Denmark in 36:46, edging out Team Illinois racer Jean Driscoll by one second. Thousands cheered Florida's top junior girl racer, LeAnn Shannon of Orange Park, who chased the top women to sprint in alone in 48:35.

_ Times correspondent Jessica Mundie contributed to this report.