TAMPA — Like any seasoned runner worth his tank top, Phil Parrot-Migas embraced the 41-degree race-time temperature at Saturday morning’s Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K.
But the headwind he and nearly 5,800 competitors encountered heading north on Bayshore Boulevard was as brutal as the air was blissful.
“I think the headwind had a big play today,” the 27-year-old London, Ontario, resident said. “But overall it was super fun.”
And in Parrot-Migas’ case, super one-sided.
On a cloudless morning when the starting-time wind-chill was announced at 38, Parrot-Migas led the 15K essentially wire to wire, crossing the finish line near Tampa General Hospital in 45 minutes, 35 seconds. No other runner eclipsed 46 minutes.
“I was trying to go for sub-45 minutes, which I was on pace ’til about halfway, then the wind was pretty strong on the way back,” said Parrot-Migas, an account manager for a registration software company making his Gasparilla debut.
“Looking at the sky-rise buildings, it’s kind of a bit demoralizing trying to close that gap. But it felt smooth, the fans were awesome, too, so that helped me on the way back.”
The second straight Canadian to win the overall 15K title, Parrot-Migas is a workout partner of 2019 winner Chris Balestrini. Because he is not a local resident, he was not eligible for the $2,000 winner’s purse — Alex Milne, a 29-year-old Nokomis resident who finished in 47:25, captured it a second straight year — though the pace Parrot-Migas established befitted someone in hot pursuit of a payday.
Parrot-Migas finished the first 2 miles in 9:25, 30 seconds faster than the leaders’ pace set in 2019, when the starting temperature was 69 degrees.
He crossed the 6-mile marker in 28:58, by which time he had at least a quarter-mile lead on the field, which was missing a number of elite runners — including three-time 15K champ Jon Mott — who are focusing on next weekend’s U.S. Olympic marathon team trials in Atlanta.
But the headwind that had met him shortly before, when the course turned on Gandy Boulevard and led back north on Bayshore, began taking its toll.
Not surprisingly, long sleeves and ski caps were prevalent throughout the course, and the audience of spectators along Bayshore was considerably more sparse than normal.
“The wind was a killer on the way back,” overall female winner Kristen Tenaglia said.
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Yet Parrot-Migas shunned compression socks for short ones, and ran in a yellow tank top bearing the logo of his running club, the Back Road Bandits.
“I think if there wasn’t that headwind on the way back, I could’ve kept that pace and gone under 45,” Parrot-Migas said.