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High temperatures don't stop Pittsburgh's Great Race from being great

Aaron Aupperlee
| Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, 1:15 p.m.

Near-record-high temperatures greeted runners and walkers as they crossed the finish line of the Great Race.

Temperatures touched near 80 degrees, but that didn't keep more than 15,000 people from racing down the Boulevard of the Allies and finishing strong at Point State Park.

“A lot of water. A lot of cheers,” said Gerard Tessier, 22, of Bloomfield.

Even after 6.2 miles in the heat, Tessier had enough energy to jump and click his heels together as he crossed the finish line, underscoring what makes the Great Race so great.

“It's really fun,” said Louise Finnstrom, 17, of Point Breeze, who also ran the 10k.

Finnstrom cooled off under an inflatable arch shooting out water and mist at the finish line. She said the race was hot, and she appreciated the volunteers staffing the water stations.

“People were always there when I needed them,” Finnstrom said.

The Great Race expanded and added water stations for Sunday's race. There were misting stations along the course and one at the finish line. Organizers also put out buckets of ice water with little blue towels in them.

Temperatures were comfortable — in the low 60s — when the 5k race started at 8 a.m. By the start of the 10k race at 9:30 a.m., the temperature had climbed to 70 degrees at Point State Park. It was near 80 degrees as runners at a 10-minute-mile pace crossed the finish line.

At least two runners crossed the finish line lying in the back of a Pittsburgh EMS cart. Four runners were taken to hospitals for dehydration, said Sonya Toler, a Pittsburgh police spokeswoman. Paramedics treated 25 patients.

Sunday was the 40th running of the Great Race. But it was Rossanne Ponce's first.

Ponce, 62, of Cranberry ran the 5k. It was her first race ever. She had never thought of herself as runner until she met women like her who were.

Ponce loved running through the city, seeing parts on foot she's only ever seen from her car. She loved the people lining the course and cheering her on.

“It's uplifting. It gave me a lot of encouragement to continue running,” Ponce said. “I can't wait until next year.”

And that, too, is why the Great Race is so great.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

Jodie White of Cranberry cheers on her husband during the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Jodie White of Cranberry cheers on her husband during the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
Runners sporting a bride and groom costume come into the home stretch of the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Runners sporting a bride and groom costume come into the home stretch of the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
Runners come into the home stretch of the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Runners come into the home stretch of the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
Tommy Cowell keeps cool in the misting tent after running the 10k  during the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Tommy Cowell keeps cool in the misting tent after running the 10k during the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
Runners come into the home stretch of the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Runners come into the home stretch of the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
Jennifer Bigham wins the women's 10k with a time of 35:23 during the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Jennifer Bigham wins the women's 10k with a time of 35:23 during the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
Samuel Mueller of Auburn, Ala., wins the men's 10k with a time of 31:02 during the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Samuel Mueller of Auburn, Ala., wins the men's 10k with a time of 31:02 during the 40th annual Pittsburgh Great Race on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at Point State Park.
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