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25 years later, Great Race race director still sees firsts

| Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, 5:29 p.m.

Mike Radley has worked 34 of 35 Great Races, and Sunday was his 25th anniversary as race director. He has seen the race grow, shrink, then grow again to a record 15,000 runners this year.

When he started out, organizers used frisbees as timing devices. Radley has seen a lot, but Sunday was the first time he saw a couple get engaged at the end of the race.

Following the announcement of the 10K and 5K winners, Dan Hains, 32, of Bloomfield popped the question to his girlfriend of two years, 27-year-old Amanda Smith, on stage.

“You don't see that every day,” Radley said. “That's just a genuine moment for us at the Great Race. It's one of the things that I think just speaks to the nature of the race. It's the people's race.”

• Only one runner was transported to an area hospital, Radley said. It was not believed to be serious.

• Former Avonworth High School and Penn State runner Lucas Zarzeczny was third in the men's 10K. It was his first race since he was a senior in college 1 12 years ago. “I had to learn how to run again essentially,” said Zarzeczny, who led until midway through Oakland. “I paid the price a little at the end, but I still got my goal, which was to finish in the top 10.” Zarzeczny won the PIAA Class AA state cross country title in 2006.

• James Hommes, 41, of Pittsburgh was the 10K men's masters winner and ninth overall in 33:02, and Cheryl Collins-Gatons, 45, of Greensburg was the women's masters winner and sixth woman overall in 36:05. Heather Melzer of Mars, who was the overall 5K winner in 2011, came in third and was the top masters woman with a time of 18:25. The top 5K masters man was Dominic Wyzomirski, 53, who finished in 17:24.

• More than a dozen area Army reservists from the 316th Expeditionary Sustainable Command in Coraopolis and the 3rd Medical Command Deployment Support participated in their own shadow Great Race, desert style, at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait at about 3:30 a.m. local time Sunday.

• A group of “Perfect Great Racers” who have participated in the event every year dropped to 24 Sunday. Tom Kennedy missed his first Great Race because of travel to China.

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