Stress-free mom coasts to Great 5K victory

| Monday, Sept. 26, 2011

Heather Melzer has five boys ranging in age from 5 to 15. And although none of them saw their mom win the women's 5K portion of the Richard S. Caliguiri Great Race on Sunday, the 42-year-old Wexford resident was still thinking about her kids.

Well, sort of.

"It doesn't matter how fast you have to run," Melzer said. "Nobody is fighting, nobody is crying and nobody is freaking out. It's a good day."

Melzer, who won this race in 2007, finished in 18 minutes, 27 seconds, breaking her own masters course record of 18:50, which she set a year ago.

The absence of children — which Melzer was only joking about — wasn't the only thing that left her feeling free: Melzer trained all summer for the USA Triathlon national championships, which were held Aug. 20 in Burlington, Vt.

Melzer finished fifth in her age group at 1:19:55, advancing to the world championships next year in New Zealand, and the increased training paid dividends yesterday.

"I think it made me stronger," said Melzer, who ran competitively at Fox Chapel High School and John Carroll University. "I definitely felt stronger today because I didn't have to swim and bike."

Cleveland still doesn't rock

The men's 5K champion was Mark Grogan, a 22-year-old Coraopolis native who went to high school at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Grogan posted a personal-best 15:15, more than 30 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.

"I decided when I graduated that I wanted to make this my goal," said Grogan, who ran four years of track at Case Western Reserve University and graduated a few months ago. "I've been training all summer for this, and it feel great to actually win."

Taking the next step

Fourteen-year-old Morgan Ansell of Greensburg won the 5K last year, and the Hempfield freshman decided to try her luck at the 10K this fall, finishing 18th at 40:26.

"It was a lot harder than I expected it to be," said Ansell, who finished 18th at 40:26. "Everybody talked about how flat the course was, but I thought it was a lot harder because of all the downhill running."

Perfect racers

The following 26 men kept alive their 33-year streaks of "perfect" participation in the Great Race 10K since the inaugural race in 1977 (the race was canceled in 2003): Tom Abbott of Cheswick; Richard Baldock of Allentown; Ken Balkey of Churchill; Dennis Barnhart of Mt. Lebanon; Gary Boyd of Butler; Leslie Alfred Brody of Wexford; John Burnheimer of Johnstown; Bob Costello of Connellsville; Philip Ehrman of Bethel Park; Paul Gaberson of Forest Hills; John George of Shadyside; Ronald Hannan of Morningside; inaugural Great Race winner Carl Hatfield of Bridgeport, W.Va.; Wayne Jacobs of Shaler; Thomas Kennedy of Bethel Park; Marty Klanchar of State College; David A. Lester of Hill District; Jack Marszalek of Wilmerding; Roger McGuire of North Huntingdon; Tom Miles of Banksville; Richard Monheim of Edgewood; former Mayor Tom Murphy of Perry South; Frank Nedwidek of Bellevue; John Richards III of McCandless; Rob Ruck of Squirrel Hill; and Don Slusser of Monroeville.

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2011 Great Race

2011 Great Race

The Richard S. Caliguri Great Race 10k 0n Sunday September 25, 2011.

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