TAMPA — As Kemper Reback approached the turnaround on Bayshore Boulevard in Saturday’s Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K, she quickly scanned the other side of the street for the race leaders. Reback knew her boyfriend, Reed Legg, was going to try and win it, but she didn’t see him in a clump of men who appeared to be out front. She got a little worried.
“I actually missed him at the U-turn,” Reback said. “I saw the three guys and I was looking and looking … I was like, ‘Oh no, I hope he’s in front, but I don’t know now.’”
As it turned out, Legg was so far in front of the pack, she missed him all together.
Legg took the lead at about the half-mile mark of the 5K and he never lost it on the way to his first victory in the annual event. His time of 15:29 was 25 seconds faster than fellow 17-year-old Seth Martinez of Gibsonton and a personal record by more than three seconds. Kaitlyn Campo, 25, won the women’s division with a time of 18:25, 22 seconds ahead of St. Petersburg’s Kelsey Bohannan, 29.
Legg, a homeschooled senior, said he has been training a lot lately, running cross country and track on the high school team at Cambridge Christian in Tampa. He had run the Gasparilla 5K a few years prior, when he finished 17th overall at the age of 14. But this time, he set his mind on the top spot.
“I was worried at the start. There was a guy who went out pretty fast,” Legg said. “But then he ended up slowing down a bit and I passed him. I slowed down a little the last mile, but the first two were pretty good.”
It has been a big month for Legg, who just two weeks ago signed to run cross country and track at the University of Florida. He is also a triathlete, which is how he met girlfriend Reback, 19, of North Palm Beach. Reback finished third in the women’s division with a time of 19:26.
For Reback, dating the speedy Legg keeps her motivated.
“It’s definitely helpful to be in a relationship with somebody who pushes you,” Reback said. “We can do a lot of things together, and we understand each other. We know what the other person’s going through.”
Finishing just more than a minute ahead of Reback, Campo’s victory on the women’s side of the race was a personal comeback in a sport she is now attempting to pick up again.
Campo, an Orlando native, ran cross country and track at USF, graduating in 2016. From there she enrolled in physician’s assistant school at Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale. She ran for a year there, but ultimately took time away to focus on her studies.
Last August she graduated and now works as a PA at Westchase Orthopedics. Just recently she began running again, training with University of Tampa coach Dror Vaknin with the Progressive Running group.
Campo said she doesn’t have any more races coming up just yet, as she’s still trying to balance training and professional responsibilities.
But after Saturday, Campo knows she’s still got it.
“It feels good because being a post-collegiate runner, it kind of feels like you’re gonna go downhill from there,” Campo said. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep it up. But I’d like to try.”
“I need to learn how to be an adult while still training like a kid.”