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Published Feb. 4, 2008

The top marathoner from the area at Boston on Monday measures success against prior performances.

Therefore, despite the adverse conditions he and 20,000 others put up with - freezing rain and a headwind for 26.2 miles - Kevin Lyons' 2 hour, 43:41 second effort was a marked improvement over last year's ordeal. In 2006 he had to drop out at 30 kilometers due to dehydration after reaching the halfway mark in 1:15.

"Just finishing today was an accomplishment," said Lyons, 22, a Palm Harbor resident and Harvard senior. "I was mindful of what happened last year and therefore paid close watch on my pace times so I'd be sure to finish. My training didn't go as well as I'd hoped this spring so didn't push the pace early on, in the middle of the marathon or late. My main satisfaction was taking the hills of Newton. Nobody passed me on them although some did later."

Lyons made a splash in his marathon debut, winning a small one in Wakefield, Mass., in 2005 in 2:42. A former state high school champ (Clearwater Central Catholic) at 3,200 meters, Lyons etched his name into the Times Turkey Trot record book in November, winning both 5K and 10K events.

Lyons has been running in the Cambridge and Boston area for four years so he knew how to dress for the occasion, wearing both a long-sleeve top and a hat. That helped some, but he said he still felt the icy wind and rain.

Asked about his next marathon, Lyons was brief: "Never again! But ask me again in two weeks and I may have a different answer."

Lyons graduates in June with a degree in economics. He has been hired to work in the investment banking department at Raymond James Financial, where he has worked the past three summers."

MORE HIGHLIGHTS: Michael Weiss, president of Lyons' West Florida Y Runners Club, said he was in shape to run faster than the 2:47 he clocked in Chicago last fall, but not under Monday's adverse weather conditions. "It was bad at the beginning and only got worse as the race progressed," said Weiss, who posted 2:52:35.

- A third club member, Christa Benton, had designs on improving on her debut marathon at Disney, where she finished second in 2:57:25. But the weather didn't help her either. Benton, battered and only slightly bruised, finished in 3:01:57 and with memories to last a lifetime. She finished 34th in the concurrent U.S.A. Women's Championship.

"I was transported to Hopkinton with all the elite athletes where we were sheltered in a church before the start," Benton said. "To have run that race we had to be either courageous or crazy. Anyway, I had a great time in the most difficult conditions I've ever run in. ... Maybe I'll run a fall marathon."

Considering American favorite Deena Kastor clocked 2:35:09 at Boston - compared with her American record of 2:19:36 in winning London last year - Benton's dropoff was minimal.

- John and Jill Voorhis of St. Petersburg were one husband and wife team in the field. They finished in 3:51:45 and 4:06:33, respectively. Another area couple were the Kiefers of Treasure Island. Jon finished in 3:46:52 and Lori-Lynn in 3:59:26.

- Jacki Wachtel of Tarpon Springs had a realistic goal of sub-three hours. Her best time is 3:01. She struggled to finish in 3:30:59. Carol Glasscock of St. Pete Beach followed closely in 3:34:35.

BOSTON NOTES: Mary Ann Protz, who led the Forerunners to the 2004 women's title in 2:57:58, has recovered from a fractured pelvis that sidelined her most of 2006 and has committed to run Chicago this fall.

- St. Petersburg's Albert Wieringa didn't get to go for a third consecutive win in the 60-64 age division, following victories in Chicago and Disney. A nagging injury prevented him from going to Beantown.

WEEKEND RECAP: When does a 10K turn into an 7.5-mile ordeal?

It happened last Saturday for women's winner Kim Miles of Clearwater in the Seminole Stampede race at Seminole Park. Among a lot of turns and twists, frontrunner Brian Scott got away from the pack. Miles and others proceeded to run off course leading to a frustrating day, though she was finally credited with the women's win. Miles goes for her fourth consecutive win on Saturday at the Frenchy's Gumbo Run 5K on Clearwater Beach.

- Karol Withrow of Safety Harbor won the women's division of Sunday's Flatwoods 4-Mile Trail Run in Tampa in 26:01 finishing third in the mixed field of 195.

- Melanie Peters of St. Petersburg has a three-race win streak. They include the Bolt Run on March 31 and this month's Iron Girl 10K and the Hare Racing Experience 5K at USF in Tampa.