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Sunday, October 8, 2000 -- Belle Vernon, PA
Bell Vernon 4th Annual Run/Walk for Better Health
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage]
Results: [5K Run O/A] [By Class] [5K Walk O/A] [By Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9]

Starting Line
Ready to race on a chilly October morning
If there was a rainbow for 5K runs, it would surely lead to Bell Vernon's annual Run/Walk for Better Health. The proverbial pot-of-gold would certainly be found in the unbelievable wealth of amenities, random prizes, and awards.

The winners' trophies and plaques are fantastic, there are enough pre and post-race food and beverages to satisfy the most voracious appetite, everyone receives a long-sleeve T-shirt, and the random prizes are numerous. And it isn't just the quantity (almost 100 prizes were given away), we're talking great stuff here folks; a 25" color TV, round trip tickets to Orlando including hotel accommodations, theater tickets with limousine service, a mountain bike, and so much more. But, before you get a chance at the over $5,000 worth of prizes, you need to get out and run or walk 3.1 miles.

On the Sunday morning of this year's race, the clouds kept the sun fighting for a chance to shine as temperatures struggled to rise above forty degrees. Never-the-less, hundreds of runners and walkers crowded the starting line at 8:00am to wind their way through the rolling hills of North Belle Vernon and Rostraver Township.

Linda Smida
Linda Smida rounds the final turn and heads for the finish
The 5K run quickly became a two-man race with Belle Vernon's own John Kerekes battling with Bethel Park's George Toomey. The pair ran together for most of the race until Kerekes surged with about 500 meters to go. The move was enough to put a solid gap on Toomey and give Kerekes the win with a time of 16:40. Toomey easily held on for second overall with a time of 16:50. In a close race for third, Irwin's Dennis Bierbower crossed the line at 17:56 for the final spot on the podium.

The women's race was dominated by Farmington's Susan Lobos who took an easy win with a time of 19:16. The race for second overall was won by Wheeling, West Virginia's Cathy Willming (22:38) with Monongahela's Megan Farari (22:45) close behind to capture third.

In the walk division, it was another two-man race as Millsboro's Thomas Starkey went stride-for-stride with Trafford's Ken James. The back-and-forth race finally saw Starkey pull away in the end to take the win at 25:55. James found the line at 26:32 to take second with McMechen, West Virginia's George Macek taking third overall at 30:54.

Rachel Cupec
Everyone came out to play in Belle Vernon
In the women's division, Fredericktown's Kathy Paes walked away with top honors finishing fourth overall with a time of 31:51. Her strong showing was even more impressive knowing that she had surgery on her foot earlier in the year. A close race for second followed as Monongahela's Marsh Vitale (33:42) edged out Greensburg's Mary Beth Hassan (33:51).

Many more competitors, some more competitive than others, made their way to the finish with all the post-race festivities waiting. Then it was time for the grand prize drawings and the distributing off all the award hardware while enjoying hotdogs right of the grill, plenty of Subway's finest sandwiches, fresh fruit and pastries, and hot and cold beverages.

All the wonderful racing and celebrating would not be possible without all the generous support of the many sponsors. It also helps to have the tireless Dr. Laurie Pavtis, of Pavtis Chiropractic Health Center, running the show with the help of many local volunteers. An added plus is that all those that contributed their resources participating or helping out can know that the Emergency Housing Facility benefitted from their efforts.

If you happened to have missed this year's Run/Walk for Better Health, there is no need to worry. Not long after the event was wrapped up for 2000, Dr. Pavtis had already put together a fine looking race committee for the 2001 event.