ONEONTA _ Not even a bout with the flu could slow Ethiopian Alene Reta.
Two days after flu-like symptoms landed him in a hospital, New York City resident Reta competed in the 14th annual Pit Run on Sunday and ran away with his second straight title.
Reta, 26, finished the 10-kilometer course in 30 minutes, 19 seconds _ six seconds shy of the course record set by Paul Mwangi in 2003. Mwangi, who guaranteed his return after Reta snapped his five-year reign last October, did not show up Sunday.
Reta blew away the field of 540 finishers en route to a victory by 3:12 over runner-up Aaron Robertson, a Bainbridge-Guilford graduate.
"I let him go from the beginning," said Robertson, one of 613 entrants in the 10K event. "I was actually in 15th or 20th place at the first mile, running about (a pace of) 5:35. I just started picking it up and we got to the (Bugbee Hill) section and I started passing people. I worked my way into second place and cruised down the hill and back into the park. But I never saw (Reta). I got to the top of the hill expecting to see a glimpse of him, but he was already gone."
Reta, who beat Mwangi by 13 seconds last year, took off from the start, led the entire race and earned a total of $800 _ $500 for winning and $300 for being the first to reach mile markers 1, 3 and 5 ($100 apiece).
"My body hasn't recovered (from being ill) and I was stiff," Reta said. "I just came to race and wanted to win. I looked after the first four miles and I was warmed up, so I pushed the last two miles and missed the course record.
"Nobody went together and nobody was with me," Reta continued. "Somebody needs to be with me to beat the course record. Six seconds is easy. I'm supposed to run under 30 (minutes), but nobody is with me, I was just by myself."
Reta said he pulled away from the pack early and was out by himself for most of the race. When he came into Neahwa Park, he broke past a pack of 5K runners and coasted to the finish.
Albany resident Chuck Terry finished third (34:11), followed by Mike Rutledge of Westville (34:34) and Oneonta State cross country coach Matt LoPiccolo (34:59).
"I didn't feel good from the start," LoPiccolo said. "It was real humid. I just never got in a good rhythm. I ran hard the last two miles, but it wasn't what I wanted. You never know who's going to show up and some good guys showed up today."
Ethiopian Alemtshay Misganaw won her second straight women's 10K, finishing seventh overall in 35:30. She beat Unatego graduate Amanada Laytham by 1:33.
"She took off at the beginning, which I knew she would," Laytham said. "My plan was to stay behind her for a while. We went through the mile and she was about maybe 10 seconds ahead. I could see her through about 5K, but going up (Bugbee Hill), she pretty much pulled away and at that point, I knew I wasn't going to catch her."
Laytham, 24, said Bugbee Hill was her downfall.
"Second is great, but I need to work on my hills a little bit," she said. "Those hills kind of killed me. It's a learning experience and next time I'll try and be more ready for those.
"I'm happy and it's my best time by like three minutes on this course," Laytham continued. "It's not a great time overall for me, but for this course, I'm pleased."
Misganaw, 27, won the Pit Run a day after placing second in a 5K in North Carolina.
"There was nobody, just myself," Misganaw said of Sunday's 10K. "There were no ladies. Just three boys and me. I tried to pace with them, but after the hill I was tired."
Misganaw, who set the course record when she won last year in 34:23, also won $800 by earning the victory and each bonus for hitting mile markers 2, 4 and 6 first.
"I like everything here," she said. "The race is good here."
P.J. Harmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 229.