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Forerunners woman excels in double effort

That effect would running a hard 15-kilometer road race one day have on racing a marathon the next day?

Lisa Valentine of Tierra Verde and the St. Petersburg Forerunners Club found out last week in the Gasparilla/Hops Marathon festival.

After a seventh-place finish in the 15K _ third among Florida women _ she took her spot on the marathon starting line Sunday at 6 a.m. not sure what to expect but confident.

"My quads were a little sore," Valentine said, "but overall I was ready because the high-mileage, 90-mile training weeks made me strong."

Valentine succeeded in running an even pace. Her first mile was in 6 minutes, 47 seconds. Her finish time of 2:57:15 averages to 6:46 per mile. That earned the Boston Marathon veteran second behind Bea Altieri of Clermont.

"She went out like a rocket," Valentine said of Altieri. "I tried to run an even pace and realized I was in second after two women who were running the half (marathon) peeled off. She had about 800 meters on me at that point, and I was starting to close on her toward the end when (Forerunners teammate) Christy Phillips came up on Bea on her bicycle and screamed at her that she could break the women's course record."

Altieri, 36, proceeded to do that with her winning performance of 2:54:17, an improvement over Phillips' 2:54:55 victory in the 2000 Hops Marathon.

Valentine's runner-up finish earned her $1,250 from the prize purse plus $400 for third among area women in the 15K.

The 15K award didn't come easily.

Kristy Fuller, a May graduate of USF who excelled in cross country and track, led Valentine with a mile to go.

"At that point, I figured I could pass her because she was a college girl more accustomed to 5K and 10K distances than the longer 15K," Valentine said.

In fact, it was Fuller's first attempt at a 15K, USF women's coach Rita Arndt said.

Valentine was successful in getting past Fuller for seventh, but not by much. They were timed in 58:02 and 58:07, respectively.

The only Florida women ahead of Valentine were Lara Shaw (56:12, third) of Tampa and Clearwater's Judy Maguire, 45 (57:08, sixth).

Maguire, the dominant female from the area during the '90s, has had injury problems in recent years, but her outstanding performance Saturday proves she still is a competitive factor.

GASPARILLA NOTES: Clearwater's Vicki Stum, the 2002 Times Turkey Trot winner, has had injury problems. But she ran a swift 58:52 for 10th among women, just behind St. Petersburg's Mary Ann Protz, 47. Protz is recovering from a maximum effort in the Dec. 10 Disney Marathon.

Besides Maguire, Largo's Shirley Taylor was an age-group winner, taking the women's 70-74 division in 1:41:38. In the men's 15K, Steve Wilcox of St. Petersburg found his rhythm and finished in 53:36, good for 26th, one behind former Admiral Farragut Academy harrier John Bifar.

Among Pinellas finishers, Wilcox was followed by Ian Payne (55:22) of Tierra Verde, Brian Scott (55:49), Largo; and David Putnam, Belleair Bluffs. Putnam's 56:47 placed him third in the 45-49 bracket behind Walt Conrad and Fred Dorsey, both of Tampa. Pinellas runners took 1-2 in the 50-54 division. Steve Mikles won it in 57:07, and Royston Dillon was second in 58:27.

Palm Harbor's Duncan Cameron topped the 60-64 group in 59:44 but was well behind coach Joe Burgasser of the Forerunners, who was 58th among men in 57:37. Burgasser not only won the 65-69 class by 2:01 over last year's champion, Don Ardell of Tampa, but finished fourth in 50-and-over by 30 seconds.

Bill Riley, a winter resident of St. Petersburg by way of Cape Cod, Mass., took third in the 65-69 group in 1:01:29.

Cameron doubled Saturday morning by running the 5K and winning his age division in 20:46 for his second "gold medal" of the day. Burgasser was coming off an American record attempt in his age division for the half marathon. In the Naples Daily News 13.1-miler on Jan. 18, he blazed to a 37th-place finish in 1:23:58. The age-group mark is 1:23:50.

"It wasn't a good day for breaking records," said Burgasser, referring to the heat, high humidity and strong winds. "I think I'll also go after the 5K record, which is 18:21. That's doable."

MORE NAPLES: Among women, November's Turkey Trot winner, Mary Level-Menton, won the masters division. Local age-group winners included Clearwater's Lisa Kothe (40-44) and St. Petersburg's Ginger Herring (60-64). Jacksonville's Zeph Joseph, last month's Holiday Classic 10K champion, beat Conor Holt of Gainesville by four seconds with a 1:06:56 effort for the grand prize. Spring Hill's Al Treichel, 75, had no trouble among his contemporaries, winning in 1:47:19.

HOPS HIGHLIGHTS: The county's top finishers were Palm Harbor's Jeff Delie (2:45:55) and St. Petersburg's Jim Burgasser (2:52:47). Delie won the 45-49 division and improved by five minutes over his Marine Corps Marathon time in November. Valentine's teammate, Amy McClenathan, was the sixth woman and second Pinellas finisher (3:10:06), ahead of Mary Delie (3:16:45) and recent Disney Marathon winner (2:59:13) Kim Donaldson in the 40-44 bracket. St. Petersburg's Terry Fluke placed seventh in the half marathon, 1:23:54.

THREE EVENT CHALLENGES: Noora Alidina, 47, of Palm Harbor, finished second among women based on her combined time of 5:30:18 in the 15K, 5K and marathon, called the PT Chruiser Challenge. She finished 1 minute, 38 seconds behind Jennifer Nanney.

Bob Wehr, 59, a Tarpon Springs veterinarian, was among the 68 to complete all three events. His marathon was his 100th since 1980, when he ran his first in Corpus Christi, Texas. Wehr, who has run a marathon in all 50 states, has the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail on his schedule starting in April. It will take him 5-6 months, he said.

In the Jeep Liberty Challenge, based on the 15K, 5K and half marathon, Tampa's Fred Dorsey finished second (2:40:42) to Mark Bell (2:31:25).

COMING UP: The Feb. 7 St. Pete Beach Classic 10K is aiming for a large turnout from across the state. Valentine has it on her calendar since it's only 2 miles from her home. But she did not say she would be running over to the starting line. For entry information, including the expo the preceding day, call (727) 363-8881.

+ Another first-time event, the St. Anthony's Carillon 5K, is set for May 15. It is designed to showcase the new St. Anthony's Health Care Carillon Outpatient Center.

The event will be organized and managed by the same team that produces the world-famous St. Anthony's Triathlon in downtown St. Petersburg. ChampionChip timing will be used, and the winding course will be certified accurate.

In addition to the 5K, there will be a 1-mile run/walk, kids races and post-race party. Participants can register at www.stanthonys.com or call coordinator Kim Connelly, (727) 825-1271.

+ Valentine plans to defend her title in the Feb. 22 Gulf Beaches Marathon in Clearwater. There also is a two-person relay and 10K. Register at www.floridamarathon.com or call director Chris Lauber, (727) 347-4440. Last year 1,605 runners registered. This time, 2,000 is the goal.

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