Justice prevailed at the Chicago Marathon when an area runner was belatedly judged to have won his age division.
And if it wasn't for the skepticism and perseverance of St. Petersburg's Albert Wieringa, he might not have been duly credited with his 60-64 age-group win at the Oct. 22 Chicago Marathon.
There were 309 male runners in his age division as he ran his seventh marathon since making his debut at 26.2 miles in the 2003 New York City five-boroughs marathon.
At Chicago in a sea of 34,698 runners, Wieringa barely missed his goal of a sub three-hour marathon but still thought his fast time of 3:00:41 might have been first in his age division. But the preliminary results credited the age division win to Janusz Majewski, 60, in 2:59:11.
Wieringa, who has run Florida's fastest (1:24:14) half-marathon this year in the 55-59 age division (the Naples Daily News 13.1 miler) did a little research on the Internet and found a picture though to be of Majewski. Since he looked to be in his mid 30s, Wieringa appealed to marathon officials to verify the results.
Officials determined that Majewski's official bib number was worn by someone else and elevated Wieringa to first place in his age division.
"Overall, it was a tough race for me," said Wieringa, a native of the Netherlands. "It was cold, 38 degrees, with a strong wind from the northwest. The wind-chill made it feel like 25. My legs were numb. Then at Mile 17, I was tripped from behind and fell. My knees were chafed and bleeding. I lost about 20 seconds in my next mile but picked up the pace again at 20 miles and maintained a slightly faster speed into a headwind to the finish line."
Wieringa said he was disappointed with his time since it wasn't that close to his 2:57:58 in his native Amsterdam last year, but happy to have prevailed in his age division after questioning the original results.
"It was cold and windy in Chicago but I'm not blaming the weather for my time," Wieringa added. "I only did 12 weeks in (serious) preparation; I simply did not train enough for a sub-three-hour marathon. ...
"I wouldn't mind being No. 2 or 3 if that's what I deserved. But it's a better feeling learning you are No. 1."
FAST FORWARD TO DISNEY: Before the Chicago Marathon, Wieringa was one of 10 runners selected for Florida's Finest by the editors of Florida Running & Triathlon for free entry, accommodations and meals for the Walt Disney Marathon in early January. Joe Burgasser of the Forerunners Club also made the elite list, again.
MORE CHICAGO HIGHLIGHTS: Several other masters division runners from the area also excelled. Chuck Roose, 42, of Wesley Chapel clocked 2:56:39; Jeff Lessie of Riverview finished in 3:02:19; and Dave DeLong of Tampa ran 3:04:27.
Among women, Erin Giesa of Seminole finished in 3:17:36, Janet Conway of Tarpon Springs was 3:36:27, St. Petersburg's Elizabeth Samuelson and Stephanie Dyer, both 3:37:13, and Lisa Feldt of Clearwater, 3:37:49.
Jacki Wachtel of Tarpon Springs was hoping to run under three hours but an Achilles tendon injury prevented her from finishing. "It hurt eight or nine days before the marathon but I went there hoping for a miracle," said Wachtel, 27. "It's my first injury in 17 years of running."
- Competing in the 50-54 division, Jessica Mundie, a native of the Windy City, broke the four-hour mark in 3:54:08, as did Pam McCann (3:50:24) of Treasure Island.
For complete Pinellas and Florida results, visit www.chicagomarathon.com. Sunday's Marine Corps Marathon results are listed at www.marinemarathon.com. St. Petersburg's Tom Wells, 52, qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:27:04. His 50-54 standard is 3:35.
GREAT WEST CHASE 5K: Former Countryside and Gibbs High track standout Ray Friedman held off Tampa's Matt Broderick by seven seconds, winning in 16:08. Chris Hough took third in 17:30.
Tampa's Kelly McCarty won the women's division going away in 18:37. Marianne Pienias of Tampa took second in 20:45 ahead of Josie Bates of New York in 22:35.
Age group highlights include Lynn Gray not only finishing first, 50-54, in 24:16, but also bettering the women's times for 35-39, 40-44 and 45-49.
KESWICK CLASSIC 5K: Christa Benton won the seventh edition on the St. Petersburg campus on Saturday, edging Jason Clayborne 16:53 to 17:16. Benton, who will defend her Times Turkey Trot title (36:35) on Thanksgiving morning in Clearwater, won overall for the second straight year.
Donna Nesslar of Largo took the women's masters title in 20:12 and Craig Beale, 46, the men's in 18:17.
CROSS COUNTRY: Virginia sophomore Andy Biladeau (Tampa Jesuit) finished 14th for the third-place Cavaliers at Saturday's ACC Championships in Charlottesville, Va. N.C. State won with Florida State second. Former high school teammate James Osbourne was a freshman on the Duke squad this fall.
DEADLINE: Nov. 9 is the deadline for Times Turkey Trot mail-in registrations. To register online, go to www.tampabay.com/turkeytrot.