Hometown running royalty claimed four of the eight top spots in the 45th Space Coast Marathon and Half-Marathon on Sunday morning in Cocoa Village.
Former Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy state champion David Kilgore, 25, won his second straight overall championship in the marathon. He covered the 26.2-mile distance in a course-record 2 hours, 28 minutes and 34 seconds which was a new course record!
Six-time high school cross country and track state champion Brian Atkinson, 24, formerly of Melbourne Beach and Melbourne High, was the overall half-marathon winner.
Melbourne’s Kaitlin Donner, 27, multiple-time Running Zone Foundation Race Series female champion and a professional triathlete, captured the overall female half-marathon victory.
Viera’s Shane Streufert, 44, the defending Running Zone Race Series overall champion, captured his second straight Male Masters crown in 1:16:44. He was fourth overall.
Atkinson, now of Tampa, was a decisive champion, outpacing last-year’s winner John Davis, 39, of Viera. Atkinson covered the 13.1-mile course in 1:07:40 to 1:15:51 for Davis.
Greg Reverdiau, 34, of Prescott, Arizona, was third in 1:16:22.
Donner’s margin of victory was much tighter. She crossed in 1:20:57 compared with the 1:21:37 effort of second-place Alison Nolan, 27, of Indialantic, her Team Running Zone teammate. Nolan nipped Holly Davis, 21, of Ovideo, by 10 seconds for second.
Donner was seventh overall, Nolan eighth and Davis ninth.
Jolene Abanses, 41, of Lutz, Florida, took the Female Masters victory in 1:31:41. She was 27th overall.
The victories continued a news-making year for Atkinson and Donner who in May were among the 2016 class of inductees into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
“I wasn’t sure what was going on behind me since there’s only the far turn around to see people but I came into the race wanting to run my own race,” Donner said of the finish.
“I was hoping to go under 1:20, but am content with a best time a bit over and am thrilled that Running Zone girls went 1-2.
“I felt awesome through 9-10 miles then started to struggle a bit. I should have been a little more patient in the middle of the race. I haven’t done a half in about four years so am far from having the pacing down but I couldn’t turn down such a great race in our own backyard.
“I will race the Running Zone 2-miler in a couple weeks then the Santa 1-mile race on Christmas Eve where we (my whole family and I) get to dress up in Santa suits.”
Kevin Brown, 35, of Boca Raton, was second overall in the marathon, nearly 10 minutes behind the fleet-footed Kilgore in 2:38:23. Adriano Bastos, 38, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, was third in 2:40:49.
Timo Schmidt, 44, of Saarbruecken Saarland, Germany, captured the Male Masters title in the marathon in 2:46:17.
Karolina Viquez, 37, of San Jose, California, captured the overall female title in the marathon in 3:10:33. She was 14th overall.
Lauren Smith, 32, of Saint Petersburg, was second to Viquez in 3:16:31 while St. Petersburg’s Meredith Mikell, 34, was third in 3:17:16.
The marathon Female Masters title went to Heidi Johansen, 42, of Aalborg, Denmark, in 3:21:36.
Kilgore, of Palm Bay, shaved nearly 10 minutes off his 2015 winning time of 2:38:16.
“I have really just started getting into training and racing a lot more, have been feeling a lot stronger,” Kilgore said.
“I have finally got out of school and have found stuff from all my coaches that have worked and I am starting to put that together.
“Also I have a good balance of ultra marathons on some tough trails and also some shorter races that I feel are rounding me into a strong athlete overall.
“I felt great today. The heat did start getting to me at the end though because I have been living out of the state most of the year.”
For Atkinson, winning in his home county was a thrill.
“It felt great,” he said. “I grew up working at
Running Zone in high school, cheering on my dad as he ran Space Coast and I feel a big connection to the Melbourne running community so it was awesome to come run this race.
“The Piercys put on one of the best events I’ve been to, as expected. My half PR is 1:04:45. My goal was to use this race to practice marathon pace for Houston Marathon in January, and I ended up averaging solidly faster and felt really great so it was a success.”
The 2016 edition of the marathon and half-marathon also was a success – as were many previous editions – thanks to the past efforts of Bernie Sher and current race directors Don and Denise Piercy of Running Zone and Space Coast Runners.
Sher, a pioneering marathoner and Ironman triathlete, took the responsibility to resurrect the then-floundering race in 2003 by moving it to Cocoa and rallying the running and civic communities to support what has become a Space Coast signature event.
Sher passed away earlier this month and was recognized and honored by participants who wore blue leis.