Those runners who include a detailed inspection of the course on their pre-race checklist will shake their heads at the misfortune of Ozzie Pina.
Pina, a 16-year-old Lakewood resident, thought he had outkicked Huntington Beach's Dave Schumacher to win the Surf City 5K open race in Huntington Beach Sunday, only to find out he had leaned too soon trying to reach the finish line first.
Schumacher, 31, knew right away what happened after completing the race in 14 minutes 56.3 seconds, and was the first to relay the bad news to Pina (14:56.7).
"I think he misjudged the finish line," Schumacher said. "I saw the tape a little bit farther ahead and kind of aimed for that, and I think I just outleaned him. I think he might have had me if he judged it right, but he didn't and I saw the right one."
Huntington Beach resident Kelly Flathers, who won the women's division in 17:33, could sympathize with Pina.
"I did the same thing in college," said Flathers, who ran track and cross-country at Mater Dei High and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. "The one thing I learned from that is to run the course beforehand and know where the start and finish lines are going to be."
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
If anybody is familiar with the course at the annual 4th of July race it's Flathers. The 28-year-old won the female division for the 10th time in the last 11 years.
"I've been running this race since I was in high school," Flathers said. "I always love this race because my grandparents can come and it's fun. I also enjoy being out there with all the other people from the area because I'm familiar with a lot of the athletes that run this race.'
Even though Flathers is one of the dominant 5,000-meter runners in the county, she remains focused on the marathon and gearing up for the Olympic trials early next year. Flathers won the 1998 Huntington Beach Marathon in her first attempt at that distance and qualified for the Olympic trials last October.
"All my 5Ks are going to be training basically because I'm specializing now in the marathon," Flathers said. "I'm going to be running a marathon in Chicago in October and then another half marathon in December and then do the Olympic trials in February."
Schumacher's victory marked another strong effort in his comeback that began last year. Schumacher, who grew up in Cypress and graduated from Long Beach St. Anthony High and Long Beach State, put competitive running on hold for a couple years while devoting time to his family and career.
"Running is not the priority anymore," said Schumacher, a manager at an Irvine title company. "It's kind of third or fourth in line. In the old days it used to be No. 1.
Schumacher was second in his age division at the Carlsbad 5000 this year and won the Steve Scott Invitational 5K race at UC Irvine. His goal is to qualify for the USTAF cross-country national championships this fall.
"I'm trying to recommit a little more to it, train with some good, quality guys and try and get back into it," said Schumacher, who joined A Snail's Pace Running Club about a year ago. "I've taken the last year to do that and I think it will pay off for me in the fall and next spring."
Schumacher's wife, Mary, whom he met at Long Beach State, also had a strong result, finishing second overall in the female division resident race (19:20), which preceded the open race.
SRI CHINMOY UPDATE
Huntington Beach resident Ed Kelley held a slight edge over Suprabha Beckjord of Washington D.C., through Sunday at the 3,100-mile Sri Chinmoy race in Jamaica, N.Y., the longest certified footrace in the world.
Kelley totaled 965.8880 miles through 15 days, but is being challenged by Beckjord, the only female in the five-person field, who ran 62.01 miles in 97-degree heat last Sunday to pull within nine miles of Kelley's total. Kelley, 41, had set a single-day record when he ran 93.84 miles on opening day June 20.
The 3,100-mile race, which must be completed within 50 days, is the third effort at that distance for Kelley, who won the first 3,100-race in 1997 and went on to become the first man to complete a certified 5,000 kilometers.
SCOTT SET TO RUN
Steve Scott, American record-holder in the mile, has entered the Keep L.A. Running 5K Sunday at Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey.
Scott, 43, who competed for UC Irvine, set the U.S. mark of 3 minutes 47.69 seconds in 1982, making it the oldest American record in track and field. He has broken the four-minute limit in the mile 136 times, more than any other runner in the world.
Diagnosed with testicular cancer in May, 1994, Scott underwent two surgeries but was back running after only a few months.