Perfect Great Racer BIOS

Article excerpt

Tom Abbott, 52

Hometown: Cheswick

Best time: 30:35

Best memory? There weren't many road races when the Great Race began, so it was special and fun because we got to run through the city. I remember running the early races wearing Chuck Taylors (shoes).

Risk of missing? I ran once with a 102-degree temperature and ended up in the hospital after the race. I woke up in the hospital and said, "Where did I finish?"

Richard Baldock, 61

Hometown: Allentown

Best time: 32:24

Best memory? I remember running a near perfect race to set my Great Race personal best time in 1982.

The last Sunday in September is an opportunity to measure yourself in friendly competition against the best runners in the region.

Risk of missing? Yes - 2006, 2005 and 1978. (2006, 2005) For several years my running had slid further and further downhill as the result of injuries. In 1978, four weeks prior to the second Great Race I had an accident involving an unpleasant encounter with a ladder which caused a deep hip contusion that put me on crutches for three days, and kept me from running a step for the next three weeks.

Ken Balkey, 56

Hometown: Churchill

Best time: 33:20

Best memory? In 1998, I ran a slow time but it was part of my recovery for a heart condition. I knew I was OK because I was able to finish. I asked a physician/fellow Great Racer to be at my side so I could continue participating in the Great Race.

Risk of missing? I have been in jeopardy of missing a Great Race on four occasions. My daughter Karen was born just two days after the 1978 Great Race. In 1985, I came down with viral pneumonia a day after the event. As soon as I crossed the finish line of the 1997 Great Race, I dashed to the hospital to visit my beloved father-in- law, who passed away just a few days later. Finally, I suffered sudden cardiac arrest on July 10, 1998 but came back to run.

Dennis Barnhart, 50ish

Hometown: Mt. Lebanon

Best time: 41:44

Best memory? The excitement at the starting line before the race.

Risk of missing? One year a friend was to run the race and was going to pick me up and drive us to the start. He slept in, and I drove myself to the start and barely made it on time.

Gary Boyd, 59

Hometown: Pittsburgh

Best time: 35:40

Best memory? No one race stands out in my memory. Rather, all the races meld into a general good feeling about the event, the participants, and the time of year.

Risk of missing? The streak nearly ended before it began when our twins were born on 9/4/78 so there wasn't much time for training, but I forged ahead and ran with the approval of my wife who understood how important it was to me.

Also I questioned whether or not I'd be able to run in 2005 having undergone chemo therapy that summer. But all worked out and the streak remained.

Leslie Brody, 58

Hometown: Marshall Township

Best time: 38:50

Best memory? A friend of mine told me about the race and talked me into doing it. It is a Pittsburgh tradition and now it has become a good habit.

Risk of missing? My wife and I planned a trip to Norway and were about to finalize everything when she realized we would miss the Great Race, so we changed our schedule.

John Burnheimer, 54

Hometown: Johnstown

Best time: under 39:00

Best memory? Seeing family and friends at Point State Park (the finish line).

Risk of missing? I had to fly back from a Florida weekend meeting Saturday night and then flew back to Florida on Sunday afternoon.

Bob Costello, 52

Hometown: Connellsville

Best time: 30:23

Best memory? Winning the first Corporate Cup Competition when working with The Athlete's Foot.

Risk of missing? Actually, the very first race I almost did not get entered. …