TAMPA — Battling injuries for the past couple of months, distance runner Lindsey Scherf knew heading into Sunday’s Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic half marathon she was finally 100 percent healthy.
Any ill effects from her past injuries did not show in the 13.1-mile run, as she finished with a top time of 1 hour, 13 minutes, 8 seconds to edge Adriana Nelson (1:13:26) and secure the top prize of $8,000. Nelson won $3,500 for finishing second and Jennifer Rhines took home $1,000 for her third-place finish (1:14:39).
“At first my plan was to feel out the field, but I really wanted to get my eye off my goal label pace,” Scherf said. “But with the conditions, I just felt like I was risking too much. Like going big I could risk exploding big, so I let some of the other ladies catch up to me. I stayed behind Adriana and I felt good around 4 miles, so that is where I decided to take off.”
The Harvard graduate was worried about doing too much clock watching and not competing, but Scherf was able to do much of the opposite and it paid dividends.
Scherf’s pace was 5 minutes, 36 seconds per mile and she gained a sizable lead around the 9-mile mark, separating herself from Nelson by 200 meters going into the final 4 miles.
“Normally I’m not confident in my races and I tend to not relax and push the pace,” Scherf said. “Now instead of worrying about time and the clock, I just kind of ... go out and compete.’’
Nelson, who last competed in the New York City half marathon in November, said she had a decent race but should’ve been aggressive once Scherf made her move.
“She probably got me at the wrong moment and I was the one who didn’t get pushy once she made a move,” Nelson said. “I didn’t think she’d get too far away, because she was once behind me the whole way. I thought I had a decent day, though. I’ve been training on the treadmill a lot, but considering this was my first race of the year, it was good.”
Saturday’s 15K winner, Sara Petrick, finished ninth (1:21:37).
Tampa Bay notables within the top 20 included Tampa natives Kristina Brendzel (1:25:25) and Terri Rejimbal (1:25:45), Clearwater’s Kiera Delaurier (1:26:53), Largo’s Keara Mcgraw (1:29:04) and St. Petersburg’s Brittany Pierce (1:29:38).