Monder Rizki was calm and cool, even before the event reached its peak temperature of 52 degrees Sunday morning alongside the Redondo Beach waterfront.
He had competed as a runner before, on a much larger scale, so his participation in Sunday's race was merely for training purposes, his sights set on the upcoming European Athletics Championship.
Once the race began, though, Rizki's competitive nature took over, propelling him to first-place finishes in both the 10K and 5K races at the 32nd annual Super Bowl Sunday 10K/5K run/walk in front of Seaside Lagoon.
Rizki, a 30-year-old distance runner from Belgium, emerged as the winner in the 10K with a 34:40.3 time and the 5K at 15:25.6.
Neither was a personal best, but they were enough to beat the competition in his first try in Redondo Beach.
"Sometimes you say it's for training, but really it's more to compete," Rizki said, smiling.
For the past two months, it's been a little of both.
Rizki has split time training in Carlsbad and New Mexico during his U.S. visit.
In July, he'll seek to improve upon his 2006 European championships finish in Sweden, where he placed 11th in the 5K and 17th in the 10K.
On Sunday, he finished almost 11 seconds ahead of the runner-up, 31-year-old Brian Livingston of Los Angeles.
Kara June of San Luis Obispo, formerly a distance runner at Fresno State, was first among women in the 10K, clocking in at 34:40.3. Karla Alburez of Los Angeles finished first in the 5K at 18:02.4.
June competed in the Super Bowl Sunday 10K for the first time. The 27-year-old said she had never tried the 10K race, so the victory and personal-record mark was somewhat of a surprise.
Asked where it ranks among her past competitions, June mentioned her sixth-place finish in the steeplechase final in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.
"I'd say that was pretty darn memorable," she said, laughing.
Such was the level of experience among the 8,100 participants, whose ages ranged from 7 to the late 70s. There were novices and then there were current and former athletes.
There also was an interesting mix of apparel, from solid, plain colors to flamboyant, bright ones with unique designs. A few people even wore superhero costumes and wigs, while others donned football jerseys. After all, it was the annual race on Super Bowl Sunday.
All in all, it was a pleasant event accompanied by perfect weather.
"It's great to see everyone have fun," said Kevin Carrera, director of events for Spectrum Sports Management. "It's a unique community event; everyone here is supporting each other and having a good time. It's great."
Nathalie Higley of Redondo Beach took second in the women's 10K at 36:10.3. Alison Atkinson of Manhattan Beach was fifth in 36:57.7.
Stephen Kilroy (Redondo Beach) and Jacob Paulson (Palos Verdes Peninsula) finished sixth and eighth, respectively, in the men's 10k.
Kate Myers (Manhattan Beach) was seventh and Kirsten Leetch (Redondo Beach) was eighth in the women's 10K.
Kristen Berglas (Hermosa Beach) placed fifth in the women's 5K.
By Mario Aguirre, Correspondent
POSTED: 02/06/10, 9:00 PM PST |