“I thought somebody might make a run at me,” David said.
Instead, the former Alabama standout cruised to an easy victory, his second 10K win in eight days.
On a fine morning for running – sunny, a bit cool and breezy – a field of almost 1,000 runners turned out for the Gum Tree, with an additional 288 participants in the 2K race.
David, 22, led them all to the finish line in 30:15. Robert Scribner, the former Tupelo High School and Mississippi State standout, was second in 30:55.
Ramilia Burangulova, a Russian living in Gainesville, Fla., won the women’s race in 35:37 – almost 90 seconds ahead of the runner-up.
“A great turnout,” said race director Andy Hughes, who was pleased the event avoided last year’s thunderstorms. Mayor Jack Reed fired the starter’s pistol and a group of racers pushing wheeled chairs in the Chad Payne Memorial event took to the course ahead of the runners.
The race officially began at 8:36 a.m., and within 10 minutes David was in command.
Last weekend, David won the Coca-Cola 10K in Corinth in 31:20.
In the Gum Tree, David didn’t challenge the course record of 28:43, possibly because no one really challenged him. “I had a tougher race in Corinth last week, but that was my first race of the season,” he said. “I thought today went very well.”
David won in Corinth by just a second over Philip Koech, who finished fourth on Saturday.
It didn’t take long for the top runners to assert themselves.
“I was kind of sizing everybody up at the beginning,” Scribner said, “and it was pretty clear from the beginning it was going to be a pack of four guys.”
Former Ole Miss runner Charlie Dawson, 34, went to the front from the start and led David and the others as the course turned onto Jefferson Street. After the first mile, run at about a five-minute pace, Koech and eventual third-place finisher MacHuka Elkanah were in the lead with David and Scribner close behind.
David moved into the lead in the second mile and held about a nine-second lead by the time he reached Rob Leake Park, with Scribner shadowing him in second place.
By the time he reached McCullough Blvd., nearing the four-mile mark, David had opened up a 20-second lead. For the third time in the race, he grabbed a cup of water from volunteers along the roadway.
“I was feeling a little dry,” David said.
That didn’t keep him from extending his lead and breezing unchallenged down Front Street for the victory.
The top eight men’s racers – including early leader Dawson, who finished seventh – were followed by women’s winner Burangulova, 48.
“I have run this race once before, a few years ago,” she said through an interpreter. “This was a very good day for running a good time. I’m surprised that I won.”
A three-time Boston Marathon champion in the field, Olga Markova, 41, finished second in 37:06.
Tiffany McWilliams-Dudley, the former Mississippi State standout, finished third. Dudley ran a 37:20 after winning in Corinth last weekend with a 38:41.
Proceeds from the race will go to benefit the Northeast Mississippi Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
Contributing: Brad Locke. Contact John L. Pitts at 678-1522 or email@example.com
Click here for times from Gum Tree run.