Loni Smith Prevails In Women’s Half

Photo: Running USA

She won by over three minutes.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Thousands of women gathered for the Lady Speed Stick® Women’s Half Marathon and Women’s Running Magazine 5K on Sunday, Nov. 18. The windy 13.1-mile and 5K race started and finished downtown in Albert Whitted Park. Florida residents stole the spotlight, with Lauren Lumley from Sarasota crossing the 5K finish line first in 19 minutes, 44 seconds and Loni Smith from Lakeland placing first in the half marathon in 1:24:20.

“This event is about having a fun girl’s weekend,” said Dawna Stone, founder of the Women’s Half Marathon Series. “Participants not only come for the race, but they stay because of the beautiful destination here in St. Pete. The Women’s Half Marathon is another opportunity to encourage health and fitness in the community and thousands of women keep coming back year after year to run this race and stay fit.”

The second place half-marathon finisher, Laura Rodriguez, completed the course in 1:27:54. Diana Sitar finished the 13.1 miles in 1:31:37, landing her in third place. Karen Keefe finished the 5K in second place with a time of 20:13, while 10-year-old Taylor Stonetook third in 21:38. Smith, who ran solo for the duration of the half-marathon, used this race as part of her training for the Jacksonville Marathon, where she hopes to break three hours. She placed second at the Women’s Half Marathon in St. Pete last year, and was pleased to win this time around.

“I felt like I had a good chance of winning overall going into the race. I was hoping to go a little faster today but it was really windy, especially at the pier,” said Smith. “This was the first time I’ve ever had to run completely by myself and I was able to pick up the pace a little when the wind was at my back. Overall I enjoyed the race and course.”

“I love this course and race,” said Rodriguez. “I’ve run all three years and set a PR every time. I have the Boston Marathon coming up in April, so it’s a good race leading up to it.”

Third place winner, Sitar, was really shocked she placed at all, stating, “I didn’t think I was going to run as fast as I did, so it was fun passing people. I was running with the 1:35 pace group, and two-miles into it I was feeling good and decided to try going faster. The wind gave me something to think about in terms of race strategy—from placement behind runners to lengthening or shortening my stride.”

Each finisher received a patent-pending two-in-one medal and charm, a designer goodie bag, technical race shirt and a post-race finisher’s breakfast and cookie café. The St. Pete event is part of a national series of half-marathons, uniquely catered toward women, combining a weekend destination with a scenic 13.1-mile course.

Women’s Half Marathon St. Pete

St. Petersburg, FL, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012

1)  Loni Smith, Lakeland, FL, 1:24:20

2)  Laura Rodriguez, Bronx, NY, 1:27:54

3)  Diana Sitar, Bradenton, FL, 1:31:37

Women’s Running Magazine 5K

1)  Lauren Lumley, Sarasota, FL, 19:44

2) Karen Keefe, Sorrento, FL, 20:13

3) Taylor Stone, Largo, FL, 21:38

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