In response to the course record-setting performance of Michigan's Bobby Curtis in Sunday's 8k (23 minutes, 30 seconds) and Jon Mott in the half marathon (1:09.50), it seems appropriate to acknowledge the previous record holders in all the races of the 36-year-old Publix Super Markets Gasparilla Distance Classic weekend.
Flag pole forever
To honor the city of Tampa's unwavering support of the area's largest and oldest road race, the Gasparilla Distance Association presented Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn on Sunday with a commemorative flag and permanent 60-foot flag pole at Columbus Park on Bayshore, a stone's throw from the Gasparilla Distance Classic finish lines.
Moments after the conclusion of Sunday's Distance Classic half marathon, former Tampa Recreation Department deputy director Wayne Papy — a driving force behind the city's creation of the race in 1978 — gave an American flag to Mayor Buckhorn, who handed the flag to a U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard Detail.
Moments later, the flag was raised.
"(The Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic) has taken on a significance that we never imagined," Buckhorn said. "People love it. It's as well run as any race in the country."
Every race completed
As in every year of the Gasparilla Distance Classic, a few folks went above and beyond the normal exertions of the weekend by running all four races — Saturday's 15k and 5k, and Sunday's half marathon and 8k.
Officially, the endeavor is called the "Michelob Ultra Challenge," and if you add it up and it totals more than 30 miles.
The overall winner was Tampa's Matthew Farrell, 32, who ran the 5k in 18:20, the 8k in 32:54, the 15k in 57:01, and the half marathon in 1:26:03.
Farrell's total time of 3:18:14 was well ahead of the runner-up, Maryland's Ken Skidmore, 38, who finished in 3:22:03.
On the women's side, Lithia's Kristine Claffie, 37, won with a total time of 3:30:42. Last year's 15k winner, Jessica Crate, 27, of Satellite Beach, ran each of the races as a pacer for other runners, but still managed to place second in the Michelob Ultra Challenge in 3:37:20.
Odds and ends
About 58 percent of the 28,000 participants in the Publix Super Markets Gasparilla Distance Classic races were women. … Almost 500 athletes competed in all four of the weekend's races. … With three victories in the half marathon, Tampa's Terri Rejimbal ranks second to Grete Waitz for all-time Gasparilla Distance Classic victories. Waitz won 15k titles in 1980, '81, '82, '84, '85 and '87. … Kentucky's McDaniel Hooper and California's Gyle Tague, who are both 88, are believed to be the oldest finishers of this year's race weekend. Hooper finished his 5k in 48:18 and Tague completed his in 57:12.