Written by: Gary Ferman/Specialty Sports
A perfect South Florida morning presided over the 13.1 Marathon Ft. Lauderdale November 15 and Pedro Gonzalez and Julie Mallon responded by shattering course records on their way to top finishes in the men’s and women’s divisions.
Gonzalez, a track coach at Coral Glades High School in Coral Springs , FL , crossed the finish line in 1:12:40 while Miami ’s Mallon — 10 months removed from giving birth — finished in 1:21:12.
What started as a two-man race with Gonzalez and 2008 champion Cobi Morales lasted until mile eight where the 30-year-old Gonzalez surged ahead. “I heard him (Morales) struggling and he was breathing hard so I kicked,” Gonzalez said.
Morales, still recovering from a dislocated shoulder after being hit by a taxi on a training run in September, finished in 1:13:55. The 35-year-old Bay Harbor resident also broke his year-old course record by a few seconds. Third place went to Jupiter’s John Reback, 39, who finished in 1:16:30.
The 31-year-old Mallon lopped more than six minutes off the course record and was never challenged as Tami James, 35, of Davie, was a distant second in 1:27:52. Caterina Lancia, 44, of Miami was third in 1:32:23.
Mallon, who was running her third race since her daughter was born, was also the seventh overall participant to cross the finish line.
“It felt great to be out there and get my racing legs back under me,” said Mallon, a former Stanford All-American. “It’s been surprisingly easy to get back in shape.”
The half marathon wound through downtown Fort Lauderdale and its signature Las Olas Boulevard before heading to AIA along the beach and finishing at picturesque South Beach Park . With temperatures at a comfortable 66 degrees at race time, 2,543 runners ranging in age from 13 to 81 years old participated, including several in a handicapped division. There were more female runners in the race (53%) than men and 35 states were represented.
The 13.1 Marathon Series is in its second year after its inaugural race a year ago in Ft. Lauderdale . Miami Beach , Chicago and Atlanta also held 13.1 events, and the series has now expanded to eight cities as Los Angeles , New York , Boston and Minneapolis will also stage 13.1 marathons over the next 11 months.
The 13.1 Fort Lauderdale is also a part of the nine-race Blue Cross Blue Shield Race Series, which includes the ING Miami Marathon coming up on January 31, 2010.
“This has turned out to be a really great event for the running community in South Florida,” said Dave Scott, Race Director for US Road Sports & Entertainment of Florida . “The Fort Lauderdale setting provides a unique course that we know runners appreciate based on the growth in participation in the second year. Our post-race party had all the themes representative of the special community we live in — the sun, the water, great weather, beach music. We had it all.”