Olympic Runner Hall Wins Gasparilla 15K Run
Tampa - There was no American record for Ryan Hall at today's Publix Super Markets Gasparilla Distance Classic 15-kilometer run. The 26-year-old Hall was hoping to eclipse the 14-year-old U.S. record of 42 minutes, 22 seconds, but with temperatures creeping up over 70 degrees for the final four miles of the 9.3-mile race, it was a tall order to run that fast. Hall wound up crossing the finish line in 43:26, the fastest time at Gasparilla since race officials dropped prize money in 1998. It's the first time Hall officially raced since his 10th-place finish in last summer's Olympic Games marathon in Beijing. Hall came through the first mile in 4:36 and split two miles at 9:09. But soon after, he fell off the record pace set by Todd Williams at the 1995 Gate River Run in Jacksonville. By mile three, Hall was at 13:49, a few seconds off record pace. Hall never threatened the mark after that, but considering he hasn't raced in nearly eight months, he was pleased with the result. His bigger goal is next month's Boston Marathon, where he will be the top American entrant."I think this sets me up well," Hall said of his Gasparilla performance. "I felt pretty good out there. I'm happy with this and I think I'm in pretty good shape." Taking first place in the women's race was St. Petersburg's Christa Benton, who covered the 15K course in 54:42. The former South Florida all-American and 2007 Gasparilla winner earned $2,000 for that effort. The second female was Laura Woznicki (56:02), a University of Tampa product and Lakeland native. The first local male and third overall was Tampa's Elias Gonzalez (49:12). Gonzalez is a two-time winner of the race (2005 and 2006). The second overall male was Neil McDonough of Pensacola, who went 47:04. A record field of 20,000 runners signed up for today's Gasparilla 15K and 5K, and Sunday's marathon and half-marathon.
Tribune reporter Bill Ward can be reached at (813) 259-7456.