Benton feels the heat, still finishes second
By DAVE THEALL
Published January 14, 2007
In conventional thinking, the marathon is divided into the first 13.1 miles and the second 13.1 miles.
But an expert at the distance, Frank Shorter, who has Olympic gold and silver medals in the event, looks at the challenge differently.
"The marathon can be divided in two parts," he has said. "The first 20 miles and the second 10 kilometers."
Shorter didn't learn this lesson after his first or second marathons. It took the NCAA 10K champion at Yale a few marathons to learn to pace himself for the grueling final 6.2 miles where many marathons are both won and lost.
St. Petersburg's Christa Benton cruised through the first 13.1 miles of last Sunday's Walt Disney Marathon relatively comfortable in one hour, 25 minutes, 30 seconds. But as the heat increased along with the humidity, her pace slowed as many others' did.
The result was that she was caught in the final mile by Gabriela Trana, 35, of Costa Rica, who held on by a mere 22 seconds over Benton. Trana clocked 2:57:03; Benton in her debut beyond the half marathon, finished in 2:57:25, achieving a major goal by breaking three hours. She averaged 6:46 per mile.
"I gave it my all," said Benton, who lost only two races all of last year, including the National Cross Country Championship in New York. "I had only one other race like this where I couldn't stand up after finishing. When you run like that you can't be disappointed."
Benton had little time to rest or reflect after her successful debut, finishing second in a stellar field. She was second from the bay area behind Kevin Lyons (2:43:30) of Palm Harbor and 36th overall among the field of 10,900 finishers under 7:02:32. She reported to Plumb Elementary School in Clearwater on Monday morning to begin her teaching career in music.
Lyons, a senior at Harvard by way of Clearwater Central Catholic, was aiming for a time under 2:38 in his third marathon. But he, too, was affected by the heat and humidity, settling for 2:43:30, good for eighth.
- St. Petersburg's Albert Wieringa won his second consecutive age-group title, taking the 60-64 division at Lake Buena Vista in 2:58 even. On top of that he beat everyone in the 55-59 and 50-54 age groups, a rare feat in a large race.
At Chicago in October, among a stronger field under better conditions, Wieringa won his age division among 309 in 3:00:41.
A native of the Netherlands where he did long-distance skating on the canals as a youth, Wieringa only started running five years ago. But motived to do well since he was selected for an all-expenses paid trip by Disney officials, Wieringa peaked for this marathon and came within two seconds of his best. Last year in cool Amsterdam, he ran 2:57:58. Wieringa (6 feet, 160 pounds) finished 39th overall Sunday, three places and 35 seconds behind Benton.
"I was with Christa and two other women at Mile 1 in 6:25 but decided to back off thinking of the miles ahead," he said. "I trained 80 miles a week for 11 weeks before I tapered off three weeks ago due to flexor muscle problems. But that forced rest probably helped me Sunday. That and running in new compression shorts, the latest high-tech stuff."
Wieringa has one more marathon to run, his ninth, then he will stick with half marathons and less, he said he promised his wife.
"I've got to do Boston again," he added. "I only ran 3:09 there in 2005, partly because I wasn't hill trained and I spent too much energy trying to get past slower runners. "This year I plan to do better."
- Coach Joe Burgasser of the Forerunners was the fourth Pinellas finisher in 3:25:23, winning his 65-69 age division in the process by nearly four minutes.
- Several runners completed their 14 consecutive Disney. They included Bob McQuilkin and Dave Koehler, Largo; Steve Edwards, Treasure Island; and Rue Morgan, founder of the St. Pete Mad Dogs.
- St. Petersburg's John Voorhis completed his 151st marathon, including ultras, in 4:32:57.
For complete results, visit www.disneyrunning.com.
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