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Jon Mott not too tired to win again at Gasparilla Distance Classic

The Lakeland resident and Northeast High alum returns from his 15K win Saturday to take the half-marathon on Sunday.
 
Jon Mott, 36 of Lakeland, crosses the finish line in first place during the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic half-marathon on Sunday in Tampa. A day earlier, he won the 15K.
Jon Mott, 36 of Lakeland, crosses the finish line in first place during the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic half-marathon on Sunday in Tampa. A day earlier, he won the 15K. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Feb. 26, 2023|Updated Feb. 26, 2023

TAMPA — After winning Saturday’s Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15-kilometer race, Jon Mott went to the starting line for Sunday’s half-marathon with tired legs. That was exactly what he wanted and in the end — when he was first at the finish line — it really did not matter.

The Lakeland resident won the half-marathon in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 20 seconds. It was his second time claiming the event and his sixth victory on Gasparilla weekend.

Mott, 36, finished 31 seconds ahead of 23-year-old Hunter Dobbs of Tampa, who was competing in his first-ever half-marathon. Bradenton’s Ian Walsh, 36, came in third (1:11:20); on Saturday he was the runnerup to Mott in the 15K.

Mott, who also won the Distance Classic half-marathon in 2015 and has won the 15K here four times, has qualified a third time for the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, which will be held Feb. 3, 2024, in Orlando.

Runners cross the starting line before dawn to begin the half-marathon Sunday in Tampa.
Runners cross the starting line before dawn to begin the half-marathon Sunday in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

For now, however, the coach with Runnersfix in Lakeland is focused on preparing for his first Boston Marathon, in which he’ll compete as a pro on April 17. In September, he ran the Berlin Marathon in Germany, finishing 40th in 2:17:20.

“I’m kind of using this sort of as like a tuneup type of race,” said Mott, “but also just to prepare me for all the hard work that’s gonna happen in April.”

That’s where the tired legs came in.

Related: St. Petersburg’s Christina Welsh runs away with Gasparilla weekend

Mott won the 15K on Saturday in 48:50 on a hot and humid morning in Tampa. He wanted the tired legs to prepare him for how he might push through the final stages of the Boston Marathon.

“I didn’t taper for this. I’m training through it,” he said. “So my legs were definitely a little tired heading into (Saturday) and definitely today, but for some reason, I felt much better today.”

Hunter Dobbs, 23, crosses the finish line in second place. He was competing in his first-ever half-marathon.
Hunter Dobbs, 23, crosses the finish line in second place. He was competing in his first-ever half-marathon. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Part of that may have been thanks to the weather. After the heat and humidity on Saturday, the early-morning fog and the little chill before the sun rose over the bay and onto the course Sunday morning was a welcomed change.

“It was way worse yesterday, the humidity, the heat,” said Mott, who graduated from Northeast High in St. Petersburg. “So it was foggy today, but it was actually a little cooler out there. I sweat a little, but I was able to stay cool.”

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Not that it was an easy run. Dobbs started the race out fast, pushing Mott to work a little harder.

“I asked (Dobbs) what want he wanted to run today and he said like 5:15 (per mile) And I was like, I’ll run with him for a while. But then, I don’t even remember, it was on the course, but it was out of a water stop all of a sudden (and) I found myself a little bit ahead of him,” Mott said. “So I took advantage of it and surged a little bit and then I just I held steady. I never sped up or slowed down. I just held on the 5:15 pretty much the whole way.”

For Dobbs, who ran at Lynn University in Boca Raton, it was a good start and finish.

“I just decided to do it. I haven’t raced in over a year. So I was like, I might as well do a half,” said Dobbs. “Next, I’ll probably rest for a week and then do a few 5Ks.”