In the end Rolando Vera of Ecuador took the $3,000 first-place money in the inaugural Trib 10 kilometer road race. He played it smart by staying out of the 10K's first two races.
Gerard Donakowski of Detroit started the first of those races by opening the initial lead on a relatively flat section of the course. He figured if he had a chance of winning it would be on those first two miles. The next two miles would be all down hill and Donakowski hates decents.
"I'm really not a very strong down-hill runner," Donakowski said. "So I thought if I could get the early lead, I could win, but (the pack) caught up to me at the top of the hill."
And there began the second race. Over the third and fourth miles Bo Reed of Flagstaff took the initiative. He likes running downhill and figured if he was going to win, he would have to do it there.
"I knew the only shot I had was on the down hill," he said.
Reed opened a lead of some 20 meters, but when he turned off Sixth and onto Market, he was battling Vera, who managed to catch the pack about halfway down Sixth.
After letting Donakowski and Reed have their share of time in the lead, Vera took over near the fifth mile. The first four miles were just a warm-up for him, a slow trot to work out the stiffness left over from the Boston Marathon, in which he placed third at 2:10:46 on April 16.
"I was tired from the Boston Marathon," Vera said through an interpreter. "But still, I knew I could do it."
Vera, who now lives in Boulder, Colo., did do it as he finished in 28:08 to Reed's second-place time of 28:10. Donakowski ended up third at 28:28. Reed took home $2,000 for his effort and Donakowski received $1,000.
In the women's race, Shelly Steely of Eugene, Ore. led from the start and placed first at 32:17. Jeanne Lasse-Johnson of Bonita came in second at 33:54 and Martha Tenorio, another native of Ecuador who now lives in Boulder, came in third at 34:05. The money purse was the same for the women.
The top three runners in each race all set personal bests. In fact, Reed cut off almost a half-minute from his previous best of 28:39.
Both Vera and Reed ran the fastest 10 kilometers in San Diego history. Kenyan runner Michael Musyoki's 28:17 set on a different course in 1986 was the previous fastest.
Thom Hunt of Coronado finished eighth in the men's race at 28:56 and Alan Scharsu of San Diego was 10th at 29:16.
Alphonce Swai, a native of Tanzania who ran in the 1984 Olympics and who is living at the San Diego Rescue Mission while battling alcoholism, finished 16th at 30:08. It was his first race in three years and came after only seven weeks of training. Swai is 26.