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Forerunners woman excels

What 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 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 last 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).

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 Jan. 11 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.

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 behind winner Joe Burgasser in 57:37.

Cameron doubled by running the 5K and also 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 mark is 1:23:50.

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.

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 didn't say she would be running over to the starting line. For information, call (727) 363-8881.

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

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