For most runners, the sport is a year-round activity.
Laure Blume of Pinellas Park put her favorite activity on the back burner this summer for family outings of tennis, swimming and biking.
Getting back in the groove this fall has been a gradual process, said the 36-year-old member of the Forerunners Club.
But Blume improved enough in the recent Bull Run 10K on the USF campus to come away with the first-place trophy in the women's division and 18th overall in a field of 186.
Blume was credited with a time of 38 minutes, 47 seconds _ a significant improvement over her runner-up finish of 39:44 in last month's Race For The Coast 10K at Fort DeSoto Park.
She set a personal-best of 37:08 for 6.2 miles last November in the Times Turkey Trot, placing second to teammate Christy Phillips (36:24) of St. Petersburg.
"I'm happy getting a little faster each time," said Blume, a native of Rhode Island. "I was just trying to maintain a 6:15 pace at the Bull Run, and that's what I did _ run an even pace.
"I was prepared for someone coming up on me, but no one did. I was ready to pick it up if I was challenged," she said. "A guy passed me at 4.5 miles, so I focused on him and reeled him in at 5.5."
Blume was happy to see her husband, Daryl, top his Coast 10K performance by two minutes in the Bull Run. He ran 39:52 for fourth in the 40-44 division.
Their son, Lucas, 8, captured second in the 12-and under class of the 5K event.
Martha Vidal, Plant City, was second in the women's 10K, followed by Kit Van Allan of Palm Harbor and Lisa Valentine, 40, Tierra Verde.
The men's champion was Russ Gerbers (31:35), a fifth-year USF student and the 2000 Turkey Trot winner. Bull runners trailing him were Steve Wilcox of St. Petersburg, Ray Chumley of USF, and David Joyce of Tampa.
In a field of 211, Andrew Smith, a USF redshirt this season, won the 5K (14:56), followed by former Osceola High School runner Matt Umholtz (15:51).
Melissa Tuccio of the host Bulls took the women's 5K title in 18:38. Stacey Havaich (19:14) was second.
About 50 competitors chose to run both races. The end of the 10K and the start of the 5K was separated by only 15 minutes.
At least four hearty souls put their soles on the fast track and came away with double first-place age-group awards.
They were Jeanne Lesniak of Tierra Verde, Karen Alexeev of Gulfport, John Jerome of Tampa and Jim Larson of Clearwater.
Larson, 65, not only won his age division twice, he beat the top runners in the next lower bracket, 60-64. Larson is hoping for a top-100 finish in the Turkey Trot on Nov. 22 _ a goal barely eluding the Team Chicken member last year.
Blume and Forerunners coach Joe Burgasser are among 10 Florida residents selected for free entry and hotel accommodations for the Jan. 6 Walt Disney Marathon.
Blume ran 2:59 in last December's Hops Marathon. Burgasser compiled a 2:56 to win the 60-69 division at Boston in April.
NEW YORK CITY MARATHON: Although Brian Scott ran the Columbus Marathon about two weeks ago in a personal-record 2:47:57, he and his girlfriend, Sandy Rogers, flew to the Big Apple recently for the national championship marathon.
Despite the difficulty of running a second marathon so close in time, Scott managed to post a 3:08:12 for first among a large contingent from the bay area.
"We just went up there for a good time, to take in all the sights," said Scott, who completed his 15th marathon. "I only ran Columbus because I had a free airline ticket and won $150 winning a Fort DeSoto race last month, so the trip was free."
Rogers finished well behind the area women's leaders in 4:20:30, but she said the experience was fun.
"My quads were killing me after running all those bridges in New York," Rogers said Monday of the 26.2-mile event. "We don't have bridges like that to deal with here, and I'd only been training 35-40 miles a week for fear of another stress fracture, so I'm sore today.
"But, overall, we had a lot of fun visiting Greenwich Village and all."
The top area women were St. Petersburg's Amy McClenathan (3:27:07) and Mary Kae Woodworth (3:47:03).
MARATHON OF THE MONUMENTS: Debby Farias of Largo was the first Pinellas woman in the Oct. 28 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington.
She finished 105th, 943rd overall, in a field of 15,000 with a time of 3:30:49. That was a 9-minute improvement over her previous best, set at Disney last Janurary.
"My goal was 3:30 at the Marine Marathon, and that's what I did," said Farias, 34, a member of the West Florida Y Runners Club. "I felt very American that day running in the nation's capital after all that has happened."
Among 38 Pinellas finishers, Tom Wells, 47, of St. Petersburg was first in a time of 3:13:02.
OLYMPIC TORCH RUN: Fran Gaberino of Tampa has been selected to complete a leg of the Winter Olympic Torch Run on Dec. 7.
Also picked was her son, Jeff, a 1984 Olympic gold-medalist swimmer and former Florida Gator.
They are scheduled to run in official uniforms in the Orlando area on the torch's journey from Atlanta on Dec. 4 to Salt Lake City on Feb. 8, 2002.
Gaberino, 60, won her division in last month's St. George (Utah) Marathon in a personal-record 4:33:20.
COLLEGE CROSS COUNTRY: USF runner Christa Benton, a product of coach Lance Lipham's successful program at Keswick Christian, was named Conference USA Freshman of the Year after finishing first among rookies in last week's championship.
She placed fourth on the team and 16th overall for the runner-up Bulls.
The squad, trying to receive an NCAA Championships berth, competed in regionals at Alabama on Saturday.
Largo graduate Danny Bauer _ a conference, district and regional winner last fall for the Packers _ was named to the Gulf South Conference second team as a member of the University of West Florida squad.
Bauer ran No. 2 for his team all season.
Seminole graduate Erik Lipham completed his first season as head coach at Jacksonville State in Alabama.
He and his wife, Tiffany, who also ran for Seminole and Central Florida, had a baby girl in August.
COMING UP: Saturday's Avon 10K at USF will offer prize money to the top three women ($500, $250, $150), plus $100 to the first woman 40 and over.
The winner also earns a trip to the national championship in Phoenix on Dec. 9. Judy Maguire of Clearwater won last year.
There's also a 5K walk/run event. For information, go online to www.avonrunning.com.
The Dec. 1 Lansbrook Lakefront Classic 5K at East Lake will have four-color patriotic T-shirts with the American flag as the backdrop.
It's been designed by well-known Dunedin artist Ken Hogle.
Therealso will be a series of kids sprints ranging from 1 mile for 9-12-year-olds to 26.2 yards for those 2 and under.
For the registration site nearest you, call Roger Jacobs, the YMCA of North Pinellas, 772-9622.