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Sunday, February 18, 2001 -- Pittsburgh, PA
26th Annual St. Valentine's Day Run
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3]

Pre-Race pic
Never too cold for some big smiles
The Greater Pittsburgh Road Runners (GPRRC) are certainly a hearty bunch. On Sunday morning, February 18th, the mercury was struggling to reach 18 degrees(f). But, as Ron Ferguson commented after running five miles, "The weather was beautiful and the sunshine made the running perfect."

Maybe this enthusiasm for running in sub-freezing temperatures has something to do with memories of years past. This was the day for the 26th St. Valentine's Day Run and Ron Romanoff seems to remember one year when the temperature was below zero. In charge of this year's run was Coonie Hoon who has been directing the race with her husband Bill for "at least the last ten years." Bundled tight in her coat, gloves and hat, she grinned "At least there's no snow on the ground, there usually is!"

Helping add some warmth was the presence of the crew from "Pankreas Racing". The brain child of Jason Winschel, it is really little more than a group of "fun loving runners, walkers, whatever." But, they are unmistakable in their pink T-shirts as they can be found running and racing all across the region. So, "Why the pink shirts?", you might ask. Simple, it sure makes it easy to pick out members in a crowd, especially at big events.

Hitting the streets of Mt. Lebanon
A little after 10:00am, timing guru Richard Hickey (it is just amazing what some folks can do with a Timex watch) had everyone assembled at the starting line in the upper parking lot at Mt. Lebanon High School. With a few short formalities, Hickey had everyone off and racing on either a two-mile or five-mile, out-and-back course.

The route starts right off with a nice climb before entering some beautiful Mt. Lebanon neighborhoods just before the one-mile mark. From there, the course continues to challenge with little in the way of flat terrain. But, as Jude Thomas commented, "You can't complain about the downhill finish."

Still, the uphill start seemed all right with Thomas as he held a slight advantage over Jim McCarthy as they hit the mile mark. The pair battled at the front of the field until the turnaround point. From there it was McCarthy off the front as he went on to take the win in 32:00.

The racing was far from over for Thomas as the patiently pacing Ron Romanoff caught up with him around the three-mile mark. Romanoff kept up the charge as he tried to chase down McCarthy. When he hit the finish for second place, he had closed the gap to just ten seconds at 32:10. Thomas found the line for third at 32:42.

Having fun
A "race" or a "fun run"...
What's the difference?
Among the female five-milers, Kerry Buhner was first with a time of 37:00. In the two-mile run, it was 13-year-old Tim Winschel (16:37) taking first 11-year-old Laura Reutler (17:25) getting first female honors.

As all the racers made their way back to the Mt. Lebanon High School, folks were soon off to enjoy the rest of the sunny Sunday afternoon. It was a great way to start the day and big thanks go out to all the hard work put in by race director Connie Hoon and the volunteers that helped her out, especially Dena Holland, Dick Firsching, and Richard Hickey.

The GPRRC holds a club run every month and the entry fee is just $2.00 for non-members and a $1.00 for members. You can check their web site at for all the details.