LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Patches of heavy fog, temperatures a chilly 55 degrees, and a full moon hanging just over the horizon.
Perfect conditions for the 389 runners who turned out Sunday morning for the Suncoast Half Marathon at Lakewood Ranch and started the 13.1 mile run, even before the sun made its appearance.
When Jose Angeles, 42, of Sarasota came to the finish line just one hour, 19 minutes and 17 seconds later, leading all runners, it was still chilly, but the Florida sun was up in all its glory, while many of the non-running public were home snug in their beds.
"Training, training," Angeles said of his secret for winning races.
Canaan Kitterman of Bradenton, Mathew McFall of Bradenton, John Wood of Sarasota, and Heather Butcher of North Port rounded out the top five.
Runners and organizers gave Lakewood Ranch and its neighborhoods high marks.
Karen Haynes, event director for Active Suncoast, said she hopes Lakewood Ranch supervisors will be receptive to a return engagement next year.
Stephen Desch, 21 of Bradenton, a Braden River High School grad who is attending the MTI police academy, volunteered as a pacer
for other runners.
"Loved it," Desch said of the course. "It's one of the best I've been to. Very organized, good exposure."
John Pyle, 56, of Sarasota ran the half marathon, carrying the American flag.
"I am a recovering alcoholic," said Pyle. "I quit drinking 25 years ago. I learned a long time ago that anything is possible if you have faith."
The race attracted runners from Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton, Sarasota, and elsewhere. Among the top 20 finishers alone were runners who gave New York, Pittsburgh, Dayton, Andover, Mass., and Brooks Air Force Base addresses.
Jim Nelson, president of the Lakewood Ranch Runners Club, said several of his members ran in the half marathon.
"It's been great for the first year," Nelson said.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021 or tweet @jajones1.Sunday