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Saturday, September 9, 2000 -- Pittsburgh, PA
IKEA-Montour Trail Half-Marathon & 5K
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage]
Results: [1/2 O/A 1-300] [301-598] [F by Class] [M by Class] [5K O/A] [5K by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8]

5K Start
It's a fast downhill start for all the runners
The 5th Annual IKEA-Montour Trail 1/2 Marathon & 5K races kicked off on a warm and muggy Saturday morning. However, with a very runner friendly course the race attracted a record crowd of nearly one thousand runners and walkers. It is also good to know that the proceeds from the race benefited the maintenance and expansion of the Montour Trail, a multi-use non-motorized recreational rail-trail that will ultimately extend 47 miles from Coraopolis to Clairton, Pennsylvania.

Both the 5K (3.1-mile) and 1/2 Marathon (13.1-mile) races begin from the IKEA parking, located in the Robinson Town Centre, west of Pittsburgh, and immediately go down a long hill before turning onto the scenic Montour Trail. The crushed limestone surface is excellent for running and the racers complete their runs heading out and back on the trail. There is actually a slight uphill grade on the way out. It is almost unnoticeable, but even the smallest amount of elevation loss for the second half of the races is surely welcomed.

Enjoying a little morning execise
A 5K walking event is also provided that takes place entirely on the rail-trail. Walkers board buses that transport them 3.1 miles out the trail, opposite the running course, to enjoy a leisurely walk back to the finish area.

Ready to set a new P.R., or just ready to enjoy some exercise on a late summer's morning, the racing began with an 8:00am start for the 1/2 Marathon. Fifteen minutes later, the furry of feet continued with the 5K runners hitting the downhill start on their way to the trail head.

The competition in the 5K racing didn't take long to take shape as David Hackworth quickly took up the lead position with Andrew Dawson and Carl Hubel chasing on his heels. Hackworth, a member of the Pittsburgh Pharaoh Hounds, a local running club that was quite well represented, was able to hold his lead to the finish with a winning time of 15:59.

Jackie Jones
Jackie Jones heads for the 5K finish
Meanwhile, the 43-year-old Hubel was doing his best to keep pace with the 23-year-old Dawson in an effort to make it a 1-2 finish for the Pharaoh Hounds. With about a half-mile to go, Hubel made his move and took up the second position. However, with just a few hundred yard to the finish, Dawson surged back and raced to a second place finish in 16:23 with Hubel finding the tape at 16:28. "[Dawson] put the hammer down and I just couldn't go with him," said an exhausted Hubel after the race.

The womens 5K champion was Sandi Fischer who led wire-to-wire to finish an impressive 7th overall in 17:56. "I owe it all to my training partner, Gracey. She loves to run!" said a smiling Fischer as she was greeted by her canine running partner at the finish. The second place female was Christina Simpson (18:39) followed by 15-year-old Taryn Gibson (20:06) who edged out 47-year-old Cindy Grimm (20:10) for third.

In the midst of all the 5K finishes, the 1/2 Marathon race was just beginning to hit the turn around point. Out in front, another pair of Pharaoh Hounds, James Hommes and Eric Shafer, were running together. It wasn't until the 10-mile mark that Hommes, 1999's second place finisher, was able to pull away from Shafer.

Erik Shafer
Eric Shafer suffers his way to 2nd place in the 1/2 marathon
"I was glad it was uphill on the way out and downhill back," said Hommes, on what he described as "one of my favorite courses!" It probably is even higher on his list as he took home the first place trophy, and a $500 IKEA gift certificate, with a winning time of 1:11:56.

Shafer found the finish a minute later, 1:12:57, to capture second place. "I didn't have it today. I've been sick since last Wednesday and the weather didn't help," he confessed.

A close race for third place overall went to Eric Anish (1:16:19) who finished just ahead of Hans Rottmann (1:17:10).

Taking home the honors for the fastest female 1/2 Marathoner was < 40-year-old Laura Hruby with a finishing time of 1:27:43. "It's a good feeling," she said after leading from start to finish in what was her first race since turning 40. Hruby also made the interesting note that her 1999 finishing time of 1:25:28 was faster, but had only earned her third place.

Strong Men
Feeling pretty good about finishing a day at the races
The second place overall female award went to 25-year-old Marcia Adams with a time of 1:32:33. Rounding out the top three was Karen Szczepanski who finished at 1:33:36.

Many more competitors made their way to the finish in varying degrees of joy and agony. Waiting for them was plenty of water and a bus ride back up to the Awards tent in the IKEA parking lot. Whether or not they had an award coming, plenty of fruit, fresh-baked rolls, juice and Swedish coffee was freely available. Not-to-mention, the tales they could tell of another race course conquered!