About the same time Boston Marathon women's winner Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia was crossing the finishing line last Monday, Larry Yost of Treasure Island was passing the classic's midpoint at Wellesley College to the screams and cheers of thousands of charged spectators.
Although Yost, 68, had run the distance in 4 hours, 50 minutes in training and was looking realistically at a goal of 4:45 or better, a critical mistake the night before the race almost prevented him from toeing the starting line at noon in Hopkinton. It also resulted in a final time of 5:15:09, good for 10,095th place among an estimated 15,000 starters.
Rather than go to the traditional prerace carbo-loading spaghetti dinner, Yost opted for a mushroom-laden hamburger at a restaurant. As it turned out, the mushrooms were bad and he was sick all night with food poisoning.
"If the race had started early morning, as most do, I never would have made it," said Yost, a competitive swimmer in his college days at North Carolina State. "But the fact that it started at noon gave me enough time to recover, partially, and take part.
"It was an incredible experience with all the crowd participation and support on that state holiday _ Patriots Day _ handing you drinks, orange slices, and even one guy near me was given a hot pepper. It kept up that way the entire route. You couldn't stop if you wanted to."
Yost is a member of the Ultimate Runners Club of St. Petersburg, the Mad Dogs Triathlon Club and the St. Pete Masters Swim Club.
He also is a member of the international Achilles Track Club, which qualifies him for Boston as a handicapped athlete. He has had a pacemaker for five years. Members of that club do not have to meet the normal age-group time standards to run at Boston.
Yost said he learned something at Boston, his third attempt at 26.2-mile events after running in Washington, D.C., at the Marine Corps and at the Run Around the World on the USF campus last year:
"There are three things you have to remember in a marathon," warned Yost. "Carbo load, drink plenty of water, and pace yourself. I only got two out of three right this time; I'm learning. I may do Disney or the Marine Marathon again. I want to get under 5 hours before I end this exercise in futility."
POSTSCRIPT: Yost isn't the only endurance athlete in his family. His wife Jackie was the first woman age 70-and-over to finish Sunday's St. Anthony's Triathlon. His daughter and son-in-law, Joy and Steve Edwards, also of Treasure Island, are veteran marathoners and directors of the high-profile SouthTrust Running Festival in St. Petersburg in October.
MORE BOSTON: Runners in their 40s topped the bay area contingent again this year.
Jeff Delie, 41, of Palm Harbor finished 266th overall in 2:44:44, about 11 minutes off his best marathon time, which he ran at Disney in January. His wife Mary, who has run under 3 hours when injury-free, was credited with a 3:21:20 for third place among area women.
The first area woman was Mary Hanlon, 43, of Tampa, who was only a minute off her best marathon time with a clocking of 2:55:22 for 684th place, 10th-best among masters women.
Laure Blume of Pinellas Park was the second area woman finisher in 3:10:10, just over her pre-race goal of a sub-3:10. Her husband Daryl, who had barely qualified with a 3:19:53 at Disney, "improved" at Boston, despite the hills, with a 3:19:37 effort.
Mary Stewart-Wong of Clearwater was not listed along with the other area participants in last Wednesday's Times because she had to drop out near the 17-mile mark due to an injury.
THIS JUST IN: Clearwater's Keith Batten, winner of Saturday's Palm Harbor Day Run 10K, reports he was a little delirious when he inadvertently ran by the 5K turnaround in the Westlake area.
"I had to be to work at 9 o'clock so I was only going to do the 5K," said Batten, who ran collegiately for USF and later served as assistant track coach there. "I saw a couple of volunteers on the course but no one yelled at me to turn around so I just kept following the lead police car.
"When I realized, after a hilly 5:03 first mile, that I overshot the turnaround, I settled in. Still, I question the accuracy of the course with my 30:36 time. That seemed a little fast; I know what a 30:36 feels like."
Safety Harbor's Erin Mayros, just 14, ran second (20:48) to Clearwater's Bryn Dannegger, 25, who won the women's 5K in 19:50.
THERE'S MORE: Speaking of youth being served, 13-year-old Rolf Steier of Tampa was the overall winner of the Temple Terrace 5K in 16:56 Saturday. On the other end of the age spectrum, 61-year-old Larry Miller of Spring Hill suffered a rare age-group defeat, but it took an expanded 50-64 grouping to relegate him to second place. First went to Fred Steier, 50, Rolf's father, who ran 18:36 to Miller's 19:45.
Lynn Gray, 46, of the Progressive Training Team won the women's masters division in 22:40, while Kelli Albares, 18, of Lakeland took first in 20:27.
Ed Fitzgerald, the former Largo High and USF track star, is coaching with Dror Vaknin's Progressive Training Team at Oak Grove Middle School in Clearwater on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. He can be reached at 581-9690.
FINALLY: Clearwater's Jim Keppeler, a two-time winner of the Times Turkey Trot masters title and the event record holder (33:20), was roasted at a surprise 50th birthday party at a St. Pete Beach restaurant last Thursday. Keppeler, a member of the West Florida Y Runners Club, will set new goals for the Nov. 26 running of the Trot since race director Skip Rogers has introduced grand masters (50-plus) top-three awards for both men and women in the 10K and 5K for the first time.
Ethel Lehmann of Largo is featured in the current issue of Sports in Florida magazine. She's 68 and a three-sport athlete in running, softball and volleyball who was named the 1997 Florida Senior Games Female Athlete of the Year.