JACKSONVILLE – After what he considered a ‘sub-par’ race at the 2018 Clearwater 3 Bridges Half Marathon on November 10, road racer Enoch Nadler came back to Jacksonville with a purpose in mind …
JACKSONVILLE – After what he considered a ‘sub-par’ race at the 2018 Clearwater 3 Bridges Half Marathon on November 10, road racer Enoch Nadler came back to Jacksonville with a purpose in mind of pushing whatever pace he could to win convincingly at the Ameris Bank Half Marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday.
“My race in Clearwater was not as good as I wanted mainly because I got caught up in a fast opening pace and then fell off the pace with that and the humidity of the day,” said Nadler, 33, a graduate of Keystone Heights High School and also the University of Florida where he set numerous Southeastern Conference track records. “Jacksonville was better weather and I was more mentally prepared to push hard. My teammate (Florida Track Club Elite Team) Eduardo Garcia was going to push the pace with me.”
Garcia, 26, also a University of Florida runner and part of the FTC Elite team coached by Nadler, ran cross country and track at nearby Mandarin High School with a third place finish in Class 4A in his senior year.
At the Jacksonville race on Saturday, Nadler, now living in Gainesville, surged to the front from the starter’s pistol and opened up a 30 yard lead on Garcia by the five mile mark before crushing the field with a world class one hour, four minute and 34 second split to win by more than two minutes over Evan Gaynor, 30, of Ohio, who passed Garcia in the final miles to post the second place time of 1:06:54. Garcia was third at 1:07:15.
“I wanted to stay under five minutes for the pace and Eduardo held on, but I think I was just 100 percent ready in all phases of the race day,” said Nadler. “This is a good preparation race for the next part of my Olympic Trials Marathon buildup.”
Nadler, already qualified with a 2:18 marathon in California last year, will next attempt the Boston Marathon in April to post a world-class time for the 26.2 miles.
“Boston is the big test,” said Nadler. “I learned some things from the Clearwater race about racing at that level. I think I have enough training to keep today’s pace for another 13 miles.”
At Clearwater, Nadler, third at 1:07:28.9, duked it out with elite Kenyan runners Geoffrey Kipchumba, an two-time NAIA 5K (3.1 miles) and 10K (6.2 miles) champion at West Texas A &M, who won in 1:06:20.2 and Francis Kamiri who was second in 1:06:44.7.
“They pushed an early hard pace and I kind of went with them,” said Nadler. “I tried some pushes on the three bridges on the course; two causeway bridges from mainland Clearwater to the Gulf Beaches and one very steep bridge (Sand Key) in the middle. Those two guys withstood the pushes and then took the lead later in the race.”
At Jacksonville, Nadler was all alone.
“I knew the race would be more a mental test to see if I could push my own pace,” said Nadler.
Top local runner in the half marathon was Fleming Island High School sophomore cross country ace Kameron Wallizada, 16, who finished 20th overall in 1:20.21. Wallizada appeared fully recovered from a late season foot injury that hampered his post cross country season as he sped the course to win his age group title.
For the females, Kayla Atkinson, 27, of Asheville, NC, won in 1:16.59.
In age group action, in the women’s 0-19 age group, Fleming Island High freshman cross country runner Grace Adams finished third in 1:45.11; Rick Oblak, 36, of Orange Park, took second in 45-49 in 1:24:41; and George White, 73, of Orange Park, took second in 70-74 in 2:03:50.
There were 1,106 finishers in the half marathon.
In the adjoining marathon (26.2 miles), overall male winner was Glen Burkhardt, 25, of Greenville, SC, in 2:25:35 with Holly Davis, 23, of Asheville, NC, top female in 2:49:39.
Top local runner was Fleming Island High graduate and cross country runner Aidan Amstutz, 19, who finished 28th overall in 2:58:55. Also finishing in his first marathon was St. Johns Country Day School senior Benjamin Kailes, 17, of Orange Park, who wound up 72nd in 3:16.09.
In the masters race, Fleming Island stalwart Sean McCormack, 57, a three-time overall champion of the Jacksonville Marathon, finished first in his age group in 58th overall in 3:09:41.
“I was on sub-3 hour pace until 18 miles,” said McCormack, who won in 2004 in 2:37:10 at age 43. “I really did not train for the distance.”