Gerardo Moceri considered wearing shorts when he woke up Saturday morning.
He went with long pants, instead.
It turned out to be a good decision as the Payson High sophomore battled temperatures in the 30s and steady snow showers to win the Payson Parks, Recreation & Tourism Turkey Trot 5K.
The 16-year-old passed defending champion Tyler Moore, 22, of Phoenix, in the final 400 meters to win by six seconds. Moceri crossed in 19:24 and Moore was second in 19:30. It was a two-man race as Michael Anderson was third, 1:30 behind Moore in 21:00.
Although he performed well as a distance runner in his freshman season with the Payson High track and field team last spring, it was Moceri’s first road race.
“It feels good,” he said of winning. “I didn’t really care about the time. I wanted to win this thing. I just wanted to start preparing for track.”
Moceri was patient and saved enough energy for the final push.
“Me and (Anderson) took the early lead,” he said. “Then (Moore) went in front of us. So I started pacing with (Moore). I knew I had to wait to find my chance to beat him because, if I started too early, I would lose my energy. So, I had to save it and pace with him.”
The race started and ended in Green Valley Park. The finish line was situated at the bottom of a hill. Moceri passed Moore just after they entered the park for the final 500 meters or so. But, as the two leaders approached that hill in the final 300, Moceri began to feel ill.
“Right when I was going up the hill I started feeling sick,” he said. “I thought I was gonna get sick. Then I lost that feeling and I was still with him. So I just started going really hard. Then it was down the hill. I knew if I had a lead on him I could win because I was sprinting down it. I was just hoping I wouldn’t slip.”
That was a real possibility with the steady snow.
It was another strong showing for Moore, who was competing in the event for the fourth consecutive year. He also placed second in 2011 before winning last year.
“We ran together the whole race, basically,” said Moore, a former Arcadia High runner who works in support services for the Madison School District. “Then he out-kicked me at the end. I was just tired.
“I got here two minutes before the race started. So I jumped out of the truck, jumped on the starting line and ran.”
The conditions presented new challenges for Moore.
“I’m not used to this,” he said. “This is, by far, the coldest and worst conditions I’ve ran in. It was very cold. I couldn’t feel my hands or feet, anything in my body. It was really hard to see. But I just ran through it.”
Moore won the D-backs 5K in July and has won other small 5ks. But Moceri endured the weather to deny him a successful defense of his 2012 Turkey Trot 5k crown.
“It was tough because the snow would just get in your face,” Moceri said. “Sometimes I would just close my eyes and run. Because, luckily, it was just (coming) straight (down).”
Although he was disappointed not to win again, Moore said he’d be back next year.
“Oh yeah, I love this event,” he said when asked if he’d return in 2014. “It’s a really small community and a fun race to run.”
Although he had hoped for better weather, race director David Roehrig said the event was a success.
“We had a record amount of people sign up this year,” Roehrig said. “And, despite the weather, we still had 83 runners who showed up and ran.”
Forty-three women and 40 men finished.
Payson High junior Maizy Hall, 16, beat Longhorn cross country teammate Anna Schouten for the women’s crown. Hall finished in 24:01 for her first win in any race. Schouten, a PHS sophomore, crossed 26 seconds later. Julie White was third in 26:13.
“It’s pretty cool,” she said of winning. “It’s exciting. I was just coming to run.”
Hall isn’t accustomed to finishing in front of Schouten, who routinely ran faster than her for the Longhorns this cross country season. The two helped PHS qualify for the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division III state meet last month for the first time in four seasons. Schouten finished 117th there and Hall 134th as the Horns finished 15th as a team.
“She usually finishes ahead of me,” Hall said. “It’s a big accomplishment. She’s a pretty good runner.”
Hall passed Schouten about two-thirds of the way into the 3.1-mile race and held her off. She said her friend’s presence helped motivate her to keep running hard.
“She was like 20 feet behind me (over the final mile),” Hall said. “It pushed me more. I thought she would pass me.”
TURKEY TROT 5K RESULTS
Gerardo Moceri 19:24, 2. Tyler Moore 19:30, 3. Michael Anderson 21:00, 4. Trevor Flores 24:02, 5. Jake Tanel 24:14, 6. Braden Hancock 24:31, 7. Jesse Clark 25:04, 8. Tim Fruth 25:20, 9. Leonard Tanel 26:23, 10. Andrew Hanna 27:40.
Jake Poinier 27:53, 12. Robert O’Connor 28:13, 13. Charlie Hall 28:33, 14. Lucas Tanel 28:58, 15. Scott Ryden 29:32, 16. Jesse Moore 29:37, 17. Scott Nosek 31:11, 18. Kevin Morris 32:02, 19. Matt Zimmerman 33:37, 20. Rodney Cronk 34:16.
T.K. Kallenbach 37:16, 22. Scott Grassel 39:12, 23. Albert Hunt 39:27, 24. Mark Brown 40:03, 25. Donovan Waterman 41:22, 26. Trey Butler 41:35, 27. William Mennan 43:10, 28. Dylan Justice 43:36, 29. James Jackson 45:12, 30. Brian Echols 46:09.
David Rutter 47:24, 32. John Hancock 48:24, 33. James Waterman 49:31, 34. Bill Butler 52:33, 35. Mike Poinier 53:24, 36. Ray Kinsman 54:09, 37. Howard Burdette 54:58, 38. Karl Watts 55:57, 39. Jerome Gardner 56:14, 40. Joe Dean 56:55.
Maizy Hall 24:01, 2. Anna Schouten 24:27, 3. Julie White 26:13, 4. Karis Zimmerman 26:28, 5. Montana Scott 26:58, 6. Annika Klein 27:42, 7. Angie Newbold 28:07, 8. Fei Yao 28:54, 9. Karen Smith 29:13, 10. Rebecca O’Connor 29:38.
Melinda Roland 29:48, 12. Janet Nosek 29:59, 13. Debra Bergmark 30:04, 14. Hailey Hall 30:06, 15. Adrine Hall 31:29, 16. Margeret Payne 31:31, 17. Lisa Moffett 31:59, 18. Megan Sealfrank 32:11, 19. Kay Poinier 32:18, 20. Tanya Ryden 32:27.
Karla Tanel 33:14, 22. Susan Launder Becker 34:19, 23. Mary Brooksby 34:34, 24. Debra Colbertson 35:02, 25. Kitty Tattersall 35:35, 26. Sandra Aldrich 35:38, 27. Michell Marinelli 36:06, 28. Linda Morris 36:44, 29. Mary Smith 38:12, 30. Lydia Schouten 39:33.
Victoria Farnsworth 40:53, 32. Amity Justice 41:12, 33. Shawna Davis 42:12, 34. Maddy Poinier 42:22, 35. Rosie Mason 46:50, 36. Jeri DeCola 52:14, 37. Michelle Johnson 52:40, 38. Chloe Hanconck 52:41, 39. Claire Hanconck 53:23, 40. Chasity Burdette 54:11.
Muriel Waterman 56:58, 42. Sophie Davis 57:25, 43. Michelle Dean 57:27.