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Late burst helps Morocco native win title

A new American citizen pulled away from the lead pack in the final 400 meters of the Unicorn Classic 5K for a narrow 4-second margin of victory at Largo Central Park.

Said Diri of Kissimmee, a native of Morocco, ran with a lead pack consisting of Gasparilla winner Muchapiwa Mazano of Tampa and Hops Marathon winner Tony Teats of Oldsmar until he was ready to pick up the pace and go for the gold.

Diri won in 15 minutes, 12 seconds.

"We went through the mile together in 4:51 and the two in 9:52," said Diri, 28, a former member of the Moroccan national cross country team. "My plan was to stay a step back and save it for the end where I knew I could kick it in."

Brian Keno of Fort Lauderdale placed fourth in 16:15, followed by Steve Wilcox (16:19) of St. Petersburg and Jeff Delie (16:24) of Palm Harbor.

Meanwhile, the women's race was a one-person show.

Russian marathoner Maslova Tatiana, 34, a winter resident of Gainesville, won by nearly a minute ahead of runner-up Judy Maguire of Clearwater.

Tatiana went out fast with the second pack of male runners and held her own in fast company, covering the first mile in 5:08 and the second in 10:39 before crossing the finish line in 16:40.

That was well ahead of Kim Bruce's winning time last year, 17:54, and far ahead of Maguire (17:32) and third-lace Sue Molloy (17:42) of Wellington.

There were 307 runners in the women's field and 314 men, plus another 180 children in the Unikids Fun Runs.