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Old improves with win in Suncoast Classic 10K

Remember the name Beth Old, women's winner of the recent Run For Kids Suncoast Classic 10K in downtown St. Petersburg.

Old, 31, a former track and cross country standout at Georgia Tech, led from start to finish. She wasn't sure she was in the lead since Christa Benton and prep standout Brigithe Moreno, 15, of Tampa, led the mixed 10K/5K field until the 5K turnaround point.

"I was relieved to see them turn back since I'm familiar with Christa and thought she was running the 10K," Old said. "I was just trying to run an even six minutes per mile pace and that's essentially what I did."

Old averaged 5:54 per mile in a time of 36:42, comfortably ahead of runnerup Dana Parrot (37:11) of Tampa and Allison Macas (38:23) of Brandon. St. Petersburg's Laura Drake took fourth in 39:13 followed by Kim Bruce, 43, in 40:06.

The winner's prize was $600, almost enough to pay for the new sod Old and her husband ordered for their Crescent Heights home.

Old's winning time was considerably faster than the 38:04 she ran for 10K at December's Holiday Classic in Clearwater, in which she took fifth in 38:04 behind her training partner, Maria Ghizzoni, Benton, Parrot and Jacki Wachtel of Tarpon Springs.

"That time of 38:04 was my PW (personal worst) for the distance," said Old, whose personal best is 33:51 at the 2004 Azalea Trail Run in Mobile, Ala. "My heel was bothering me in that (Holiday) race; I never should have run it."

Old is coming off a year in which running was not her No. 1 priority. She and her husband had a baby in May, John Marland, their second.

"My training isn't what it used to be," Old said.

"Instead of the 70-80 miles I used to run, I'm down to the 40-50 range now. But I am getting faster, moving in the right direction. I'll run Saturday's Gasparilla 15K with a goal of six minutes per mile."

That even pace on the flat Bayshore Boulevard course would bring her home in 55:55. Last year Vicky Gill of Florida State won in 54 flat, followed by Ghizzoni in 55:16.

OLD NOTES: As a student/athlete at Georgia Tech, Old, running under the name Mallory, was an All-American cross country runner.

She holds the college's indoor mile record of 4:45, which won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

Old, a chemistry major, went on to run the 2000 Olympic Trials Marathon in St. Louis, finishing in 2:40:14, good for 15th.

Her best time for the distance is 2:39:16, set in at Grandma's (Duluth, Minn.) in 2002, where she finished first American woman. That year she was ranked 13th in the nation by Track & Field News. Olympian Deena Drossin and Marla Runyan were first and second.

MEN'S SUNCOAST CLASSIC: Zeph Joseph of Jacksonville captured first in a swift 31:09, 19 seconds ahead of Matt Thull of Milwaukee.

Joseph is the defending marathon champion at Gasparilla on Sunday. Last year he won in 2:18:48 over an international field.

Elias Gonzalez, a recent graduate of the University of Tampa, finished third in the Suncoast 10K in 32:17, followed by Louis Rufo (33:33) of Lutz and Brian St. Onge (34:27) of Tampa.

Coach Joe Burgasser of the Forerunners won his 65-69 age group with 41:25, and his time was the second best over 50.

There were 610 finishers in the 10K and 542 in the 5K in the fourth annual running of the event. The combined total of 1,152 was augmented by the Pelican Mile and the free Kids Fun Run.

Peter Derby of Gainesville won the 5K in 15:41, followed by locals Lee Stephens (16:04), Keith Sawayda (16:04), Brad Millett (16:48) and Steve Wilcox (17:34).

After Benton (17:40) and Moreno (17:58) in the women's 5K, Kailand Cosgrove, 15, of Tarpon Springs, took third in 19:02. She was followed by Jeanne Lesniak (19:05) of St. Petersburg and Laura Magee (19:12) of Neptune Beach.

DID YOU KNOW? That 1976 Olympian Bill Rodgers, winner of the inaugural Gasparilla in 1978, won the event's 50-59 division in 1998 in 49:48? And that year St. Petersburg winter resident Bill Riley won (56:05) the 60-69 bracket, Largo's Shirley Taylor was the first woman 60-69 in 1:27:04, and former Turkey Trot winner Mary Menton was the first American woman in 52:57?

GASPARILLA: Tony Teats, second at last year's 15K and a former Hops Marathon winner reports that a chronic hip flexor injury will keep him out this weekend.

"I've been to six different doctors since 2003," said Teats, who moved recently from Oldsmar to Riverview. "But my bride, Jennifer, will run the 5K."

Last year, Vicky Jetton took fourth among women in the 15K, followed by Wachtel in eighth and Christy Phillips in 12th. Wachtel and Phillips have been running well this year and should move up.

The 15K starts at 7:30 a.m. and the 5K at 9:30 on Saturday. On Sunday, the marathon and half marathon start at 6 a.m. at Florida Avenue and Brorein Street.

For information about this weekend's events, visit www.tampabayrun.com or call (813) 254-7866.

MAX BAYNE HALF-MARATHON: The West Florida YMCA Runners Club's annual event was a runaway win for Steve Mandel, 40, of Tampa. At Fort De Soto Park, he won in 1:14:51, well ahead of Andy Scavelli (1:21:21) and club president Michael Weiss (1:22:16).

Taylor Dudley (1:23:12) was fourth followed by first woman Phillips in 1:24:36.

Among a field of 97, Chris Noordstar was the second woman in 1:33:28 and third was won by Lisa Kothe in 1:34:49.

FINISH LINES: Wachtel, 26, is coming off a win at last weekend's Tied To Be Fit 5K in Tampa where she clocked 18:06.

Meanwhile, at the Lowry Zoo, Stephens ran a second slower (18:07) winning on a more challenging course in the Zoo Zoom 5K. However, the course at the zoo is twisting and therefore slow, plus Stephens tends to run no faster than he has to for a win.

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