TAMPA — It didn’t work out exactly like he had hoped, but former Berkeley Prep and Stanford star Rolf Steier was happy overall with his return to Tampa and his half marathon run Sunday down Bayshore Boulevard.
Steier — who has based his training in Oslo, Norway, while studying for his Ph.D. — finished Sunday’s race in 10th place with a time of 1 hour, 8 minutes, 47 seconds, which was well off the Olympic marathon trials qualifying standard of 1:05.
Steier’s time could have been faster, but when he realized the humid weather was going to hold him back from hitting the qualifying standard, he didn’t push as hard through the final few miles.
“I knew it would depend on the weather and how I was feeling today, and it just didn’t work out,” said Steier, who flew in this week for the race and stayed with his family in Temple Terrace. “I had a couple of good months of training, so I was hopeful. It’s OK, though, because I’ll give (marathon qualifying) another try in a few weeks (in a race near Oslo).”
While at Berkeley Prep in the early 2000s, Steier, now 29, set many local high school records and won nine individual state titles in cross country or track.
Young, and young at heart
Hats off to Largo 9-year-old William Stone, who finished the half marathon in 1:40:07, which converts to a 7:40 mile pace.
Meanwhile, 81-year-old Mary Kay Rachwalski of Colorado finished the half marathon in 3:15:14 for an average of 14:53 a mile.
Steaming hot fireman
Saying he did it, “for the personal challenge,” fireman Michael Lathrop, 43, covered the entire half marathon course wearing his full gear, which he estimated weighs between 65 and 70 pounds and included his breathing tank and breathing apparatus.
Lathrop, of Seminole, finished the 13.1 miles drenched in sweat in 3:29:30.
For the first time, the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic exceeded 30,000 participants with 5,784 in the 15K, 14,533 in the 5K, 3,999 in the 8K and 5,922 in the half marathon.
Add it up and the record total is 30,238.
Bobby Curtis, the winner of last year’s 8K race , returned to take a run at the half marathon and fell a tad short of winning another race along Bayshore Boulevard.
Curtis, who splits training between Orlando and Michigan, finished third in the half marathon with a time of 1:04:26, but once again left Tampa feeling good about his performance.
“This (half marathon) is a great addition to the schedule (for elite runners),” Curtis said. “I think this race will be very popular (with elite athletes) in the years to come.”