TAMPA — The fourth and final event of the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic, the 8K, saw the fog roll in just before the race’s 9 a.m. start Sunday, making the Bayshore Boulevard area look like a scene more suited to London than Tampa.
But the misty conditions also brought slightly cooler temperatures than the earlier half marathon.
Jake Riley and Ethan Shaw, teammates from the Michigan-based Hansons-Brooks Running Project, took advantage of the improved conditions and, emerging from the mist, darted to the front of the race’s nearly 4,000 entrants.
Riley and Shaw ran together through the first mile, which they passed in a brisk time of 4 minutes, 44 seconds. Soon after, Riley, maintaining that demanding pace, began to pull away from his clubmate and moved to a 25-meter lead at the 2-mile mark.
The former Stanford University standout continued to run evenly, looking relaxed as he gradually extended his lead. He even managed to break into an occasional smile when cheered on by spectators.
Riley crossed the line in 23:34, just 4 seconds shy of the course record set last year by another Hansons-Brooks runner, Bobby Curtis. Shaw finished second in 24:14.
The two train together, combining stints in Michigan and Orlando during the year.
Riley is no stranger to race success. The 25-year-old native of Bellingham, Wash., is a 2012 Stanford graduate, where he amassed eight All-American titles while earning his degree in biomedical engineering.
Riley, who was 13th in the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 10,000-meter run, owns impressive personal bests of 13:32 (5K) and 28:08 (10K) on the track.
Shaw, 24, also brought impressive race credentials to the Gasparilla 8K, being an All-Ivy runner at Dartmouth, where he was also Heptagonal cross country champion in 2011.
While others complained about the warm, muggy conditions, Riley noted: “It’s much nicer here than in Michigan right now. It’s pretty icy there.”
Riley also enjoyed the chance, as he put it, “to prance around and get a good race in,” as he prepares for the New York half marathon later this spring.
“I was hoping to run 4:44 (per mile) to see where I am for the half marathon,” Riley said.
He achieved that goal with that precise pace throughout the 8k.
The women’s race was a bit closer, with Tampa resident Beth Lukens, 32, winning in 32:25 over Sylvie Chouinard, 36, of Lithia, who clocked 32:45. Tampa’s Alicia McLean, 22, was a close third in 32:53.
David Picciano, known better for his achievements as a triathlete, showed his impressive running skills by winning the men’s masters (over 40) division of the 8K. The 47-year-old Winter Garden resident took the title in an impressive time of 29:23, finishing ahead of University of Tampa coach Dror Vaknin, 46, who ran 29:58.
The women’s masters winner was Rae Ann Darling Reed, 40, of Bradenton, in 34:50.