PROVIDENCE — After battling a stiff headwind for the first mile of the St. Pat’s 5K, Stephen Pretak knew his goal of running close to 15 minutes would not happen Saturday morning.
But the less-than-favorable conditions in the Providence race didn’t stop him from breaking the tape a winner.
The 26-year-old Connecticut native captured the final stage of the inaugural Tour de Patrick, finishing the out-and-back course with a time of 15:31.7. Pretak held off defending titlist Eric Lonergan of North Kingstown, who claimed the runner-up spot at 15:35.4.
In the women’s race, Providence’s Diana Davis defended her crown from last year by taking 30th overall among the 3,547 finishers with an 18:22.5 clocking. She beat 32-year-old Kim Jackson of Providence, a second-place finisher (35th overall) at 18:36.0.
Davis’s performance completes a victorious sweep in the Tour de Patrick, a three-race series that awards the overall male and female winners (based on cumulative time) a trip to Ireland. The 25-year-old Brown University PhD student also copped the Irish 5K in Pawtucket on March 5 and the Celtic 5K in Worcester last Sunday. Lonergan, a victor in the two previous races, was declared the men’s champion of the series.
“I won (St. Pat’s) last year so I sort of wanted to go in and win it again,” Davis said. “It was nice to win all three, but I was definitely the most nervous for this one.”
Pretak, a 2007 graduate of Southern Connecticut University, was making his second appearance at the St. Pat’s 5K. He was second two years ago in the initial race when he ran a personal-best effort of 15:02 to former Providence College All-American Mark Carroll’s course record of 14:26.
“My goal was to run as close to 15 flat — if not under — as possible,” Pretak said. “Two years ago I ran close to that and was mad at myself for not doing it. Today, I went out a little slow and it’s tough to come back from that.
“The whole mile out we were just running right into the wind. I kind of realized (running 15 minutes was not possible) when I saw 4:59 at the mile mark. It was not the pace that I was looking to run.”
For about the first 1,200 meters of the race, Pretak and Lonergan ran alongside each other on the moderately, challenging course. Pretak broke away from the former all-stater from North Kingstown High before he hit the mile mark.
Coming down the final stretch on Smith Street, he had just enough in the tank to hold off Lonergan to the finish, just in front of the R.I. State House.
“I heard his footsteps the whole time through like 2 ½ miles,” Pretak said. “Then he came alongside me at 2 ½ and I knew he had a kick. I guess I just had a decent kick today.”
Davis was more than 25 seconds slower than her winning time of 17:56.2 at the Celtic 5K last weekend, her fastest clocking in the series. This race, however, was her most difficult to come out on top.
“Absolutely, no question,” she said. “The other two I won by two minutes. This one I won by (about) 10 seconds.”
Davis assumed sole possession of the lead after about a half mile, but then had to worry about Jackson during the late stages of the race. Third place went to Framingham’s Amanda Van Cleave, who also dipped under 19 minutes with her time of 18:57.3.
“There were some fast people that showed up today,” Davis admitted. “(Kim) and I were running together at the beginning. She thought the pace was a little fast so she slowed down, but she really caught up the last mile.”
“It feels great,” she continued. “I was nervous the whole way because I knew Kim was behind me, but when they put out the banner I knew I had it. I am really, really happy.”
Nathaniel Broomfield of Pawtucket was the first R.I. local runner to cross the line. The 38-year Broomfield placed 31st overall in 18:24.9. Lincoln’s Richard Botelho, 50, was 54th overall at 19:18.2.
Tiffany Spearman, a onetime distance ace from Woonsocket High, was fifth among women and 59th overall. The 29-year-old Spearman, who now resides in South Boston, ran a time of 19:24.4.
St. Pat’s 5K
Top five male finishers
1. Stephen Pretak, 26, New London, Conn. 15:31.7
2. Eric Lonergan, 25, North Kingstown 15:35.4
3. Drew Beck, 16, South Easton, Mass. 16:10.0
4. Andrew Gallo, 17, North Providence 16:19.2
5. Jack Kilcoyne, 15, Hope Valley 16:38.2
Top five female finishers
30. Diana Davis, 25, Providence 18:22.5
35. Kim Jackson, 32, Providence 18:36.0
43. Amanda Van Cleave, 26, Framingham 18:57.3
48. Amberly Glitz, 21, Providence 19:06.6
59. Tiffany Spearman, 29, South Boston 19:24.4