Some races are more a means to an end than an end in themselves.
That's basically how winner Tony Teats of East Lake approached last Friday night's Pier 60 Series event on the natural surface at Clearwater Beach.
The champion of the inaugural Hops Marathon in 2000 took the early Pier 60 lead, covering the first mile in a swift 4 minutes, 50 seconds.
From there, Teats' main opponent was the high humidity. He coasted home with an officially-
corrected time of 15:59 on the 5-kilometer out-and-back course.
"I just ran the beach race to get in shape," said Teats, 26, who recorded a 5K of 14:43 on the track while representing Morehead State University in 1999.
Teats, an accountant with Sykes Enterprises in Tampa, logged two other races at the same distance in June to prepare for one of the nation's premier events _ Atlanta's Peachtree Road Race on Friday.
It's a big prize-money 10K that attracts about 50,000 runners, including the Kenyan favorites.
On June 7, Teats placed fifth (15:24) in the Run For The Pies in Jacksonville. Then, in a somewhat pressure-packed 5K in Hartford City, Ind., he finished first (15:28).
"That's my hometown, Hartford City," Teats said. "It was a fun time for me with my family and friends there. I would have been upset if I lost."
In Atlanta, Teats will not only have to cope with the crowds but the humidity and hills and an elite field.
"I'm seeded on the starting line, and I'm used to the heat," he said. "The hills there are another matter, although I ran in the hills of Kentucky for four years while at Morehead."
Looking ahead to the Jacksonville Marathon in December, Teats hopes for a performance of 2 hours, 22 minutes to qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon, Feb. 7 in Birmingham, Ala.
PIER 60 NOTES: Clearwater's Keith Sawayda finished second (17:03) and was followed by Dan Williams (17:29) of Durham, N.C.
Clearwater's Kim Miles, 33, hung back early in the beach race before taking the lead. Amy McClenathan, 42, of St. Petersburg closed on her in the home stretch but came up 7 seconds short.
"I think that was Amy who came up on me toward the end," said Miles, "but it could have been someone else. Anyway, I was ready. I had a little something left."
Miles questioned her official time, saying her watch and the overhead clock had her 10 seconds faster than the reported finish.
She plans to compete in the remaining three series events. Miles' short-range goal is Thursday's Midnight Run, a 10K in Dunedin that she's capable of winning.
However, if defending champion Christa Benton (37:35) or 10-time winner Judy Maguire run, Miles might have to settle for third place.
HUNTER'S GREEN 5K CLASSIC: The combined ages of the male and female winners Saturday in Tampa was 97.
That is, Air Force Col. Paul Hough, the men's winner, is 45 and women's champ Mary Ann Protz (18:45) of St. Petersburg is 47.
Protz had less competition, winning by 3 minutes. But Hough (17:15), stationed at MacDill, had to work to fend off Tampa's Ryan Kniery (17:48).
RUN THRU HELL 5K: Amanda Quick, only an incoming sophomore at Gaither High School, took the women's title (19:19) in Tampa after holding off Jacki Waller of Tarpon Springs by 11 seconds.
In the men's race, former Plant High and Notre Dame runner Mike Greiwe prevailed in 16:23 over second-place finisher Carlos Gutierrez (16:49).
ULTRA SCENE: Palm Harbor's Noora Alidina, 46, ventured to the back trails of California last weekend to take on the Western States Endurance 100, as in miles.
With an official cutoff time of 30 hours, Alidina crossed the finish line in 29:16 to receive a coveted medal.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Two locally-connected athletes secured berths in next month's international meet in Paris with their performance in June's U.S. Track and Field Championships.
John Capel (Hernando High/UF) finished second in the 200 meters to receive a position in his specialty.
Former Brooksville resident and frequent area competitor Teresa Vaill, 40, placed third in the 20K walk to qualify for the Aug. 23-31 competition in France.
Because each nation can send as many as five athletes in the marathon, Fort Lauderdale's Stacie Alboucrek, 35, should be selected.
In the Women's National Marathon Championship this year in St. Louis, she took fourth in 2:39.
MIDNIGHT RUN: Runners may register on site tonight at 10 at the Causeway Plaza, located in Dunedin on the northwest corner of Alt. 19 and Curlew Road.
The fee the night of the run is $15 for the 12:01 a.m. 10K and 12:08 3K.
QUARTERLY RANKINGS: This period's list includes events as diverse as April's Boston Marathon to Friday's Pier 60 Beach Race.
Often, the top runners in those and other local competition never meet head-to-head.
In that case, priority is given to major races, such as Boston, and local events, such as Harvey's Festival Run in St. Petersburg, Beach to Bayou in Tarpon Springs and the Safety Harbor Sprints.
1. Tony Teats, 2. Keith Batten, 3. Steve Wilcox, 4. Bob Villacres, 5. Keith Sawayda, 6. Spyder Cruz, 7. Jim Duncan, 8. Ian Payne, 9. Bryan Prushinski, 10. Lee Fictum.
Masters _ 1. David Putnam, 2. Mike Weiss, 3. Victor Yeager, 4. Joe Costas, 5. Duncan Cameron.
1. Lisa Valentine, 2. Judy Maguire, 3. Jacki Waller, 4. Mary Ann Protz, 5. Kim Donaldson, 6. Kim Miles, 7. Donna Nesslar, 8. Amy McClenathan, 9. Geri Laverty, 10. Dianne Cayll-Skiles.
Masters _ 1. Karen Gately, 2. Barbara Eckes, 3. Karen Alexeev, 4. Lisa Plescia, 5. Annette Frisch.