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A change of pace suits area standout

Unlike the attitude of legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi _ "Winning isn't the main thing, it's the only thing" _ runners past their peak often take a different outlook.

A case in point might be that of Clearwater's Judy Maguire, 46, the area's dominant women's runner in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Maguire won virtually every race except Gasparilla. The best she could manage in the premier 15K was third in 2000 and second the following year. Her nemesis was Atlanta's Laura Drake, formerly of St. Petersburg, who was on a record-tying three-Gasparilla win streak.

Not that Maguire's visits to the winner's circle are over.

At the Dec. 18 Holiday Classic, her last event, she ran away with the title. In the race to Clearwater Beach, Maguire ran a 6-minute pace and finished ahead of runner-up Danielle Coyle of New Port Richey. Their times were 18:46 and 19:51, respectively.

Coyle, 19, is on an athletic scholarship at Jacksonville University after a four-year career at River Ridge High School.

Maguire said she intended to run the concurrent 10K at the Holiday Classic but decided late to peel off and take the 5K crown.

"I'm not in top form right now and just decided at the last minute to do the 5K rather than the 10K," Maguire said.

"In a sense, I did it for the team (Dianetics). It means a lot to them to have a teammate win one of the (Holiday) races," she said.

Maguire is running less and enjoying it more.

"I've cut my (weekly) mileage back from 70-80 to 40 and stopped doing speed workouts on the track," Maguire said. "I'm running more for fitness, and I'm not tired all the time.

"Another advantage of where I am now is that I'm not under any pressure, and I get to see others dueling up front. That's what happened at Turkey Trot, where Mary Level-Menton and Vicki Jetton were duking it out."

While marathoning may be a thing of Maguire's past, it evokes many positive memories.

After taking fourth at the 1991 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, she decided to return and give the Marathon of the Monuments another try in '92. She peaked to perfection, capturing the championship in a personal record 2:46:45 over an estimated 6,000 females in a field of 15,000.

"I was utterly elated," Maguire said. "That definitely was one of my biggest wins ever."

Four years later, the former University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire harrier reached the pinnacle event of women's marathoning, the USATF national championships in Columbia, S.C. It served as the U.S. Olympic Trials for the Atlanta Games.

Under normal circumstances, Maguire wouldn't have entered since she had a hip injury. But with sheer determination and limping over the final grueling miles, she finished 125th out of 129 in her worst time ever (3:07:46).

Four years later, in 2000, Maguire won the inaugural Gulf Beaches Marathon (2:52:38), setting a course record that still stands.

She also has won the Brandon Marathon and took first among American women in the Los Angeles Marathon.

"Running has been good to me," Maguire said. "I can relax now and enjoy it more. I have nothing more to achieve."

INTERNATIONAL SCENE: Pam and Chuck McCann of Treasure Island returned to Jamaica for the Dec. 4 half marathon. She placed third in the 35-39 class, and he took fourth in 50-54. Pam is entered in the Jan. 9 Disney Marathon.

NATIONAL RANKINGS: Former Holiday Classic and Gasparilla winner Amy Begley is the No. 10 American woman for 2004 in Running Times. Olympic marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor is No. 1.

DISNEY: Thirteen area runners are entered in their 12th consecutive Disney Marathon, capped out at 12,000.

The "perfect record" contestants include St. Petersburg's Rue Morgan, founder of the St. Pete Mad Dogs; Largo High cross-country coach Dave Koehler, Susan Glickman and Pam Dickens, Odessa; Alan Mitleider and Eric Kaplan, Lutz; Jim Bodah and Bill Terlop, Tampa; Steve Edwards, Treasure Island; Frank Proch, Ridge Manor; Bob McQuilkin, Clearwater; Chris Mitchell, Zephyrhills; and Bonnie Theall, Dunedin.

There will be 210 from Pinellas in the marathon and 330 in the half marathon, capped out at 12,000 entrants. Last year's marathon winners, Kim Donaldson of the Forerunners Club and Matthew Dodson of Jay, are set to defend their titles.

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