Jake Sawyer fought back after a near crash in the sprint to win today's Silver Strand Half Marathon in Southern California.
Sawyer, 24, of Irvine, CA, was one of four leaders at the end of the 13.1 mile race from Coronado to Imperial Beach.
Going around the final turn, the young German skater Jannis Chimonidis was in the lead. He accelerated at the start of the quarter-mile straightaway, and the three others went with him.
Sawyer challenged the 16-year-old for the lead, and suddenly Chimonidis went down, hitting the pavement.
He said later that he and Sawyer clicked skates. Randy Bowman, who was just behind him, said the young German appeared to slip on a patch of sand.
After Chimonidis fell, Sawyer wobbled and nearly fell himself. At that point, Bowman passed him to take the lead. But he couldn't keep it for long.
After regaining his balance, Sawyer mounted a furious charge and caught him 300 meters from the finish line.
Bowman, 23, of Cuyahoga Falls, OH, finished second; Team Safe's Alex Fedak was third.
Chimonidis suffered scrapes in the fall but was not otherwise injured. He picked himself up and skated across the finish line in fourth place.
It was the first outdoor win this year for Sawyer, who skates for Bont North America. He was second at the Texas Road Rash and third at last year's Silver Strand.
Earlier in today's race, Sawyer broke away from the pack and took a big lead. Fedak went with him but dropped back after several miles. The chase pack caught Sawyer about five miles from the finish on the rough pavement of the Naval Radio Receiving Facility.
It was the first U.S. race for Chimonidis, who is attending Hillsboro High School in Nashville as a foreign exchange student. He is a former member of the German junior national team and skates for Zepto.
Hyper's Peggy Girgenti added another trophy to her vast collection with a win in the women's race. The 42-year-old from Anaheim, CA, spent the race tucked away in the lead men's pack.
Bont North America's Mechele Busby was second; teammate Penny Wright was third.
Copyright © 2007 by Robert Burnson