Redemption as Pittsburgh runner caps 3rd Great Race victory; Sewickley man takes men’s 10K
Last year, Jennifer Bigham attempted a three-peat in the Great Race.
But, 2 miles into the race, Bigham tore her plantar fascia and finished sixth. On Sunday, redemption was on her mind.
Bigham, 38, of Pittsburgh captured her third title in the women’s 10K open division in a personal best time of 34 minutes, 2 seconds at the 42nd Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race.
“Last year, I got injured during this race. I almost pulled out, but I didn’t want to do that,” she said. “I knew I was healthy this year. When I’m healthy, I know I’m usually in contention. Last year, I shouldn’t have stood on the start line, but I wanted to be the first woman to win it three times (in a row).”
In 2016, Bigham won her first Great Race title with a time 34:24 and followed it with time of 35.23 the next year.
Sunday morning’s race, which included runners from more than 30 states, started with weather in the mid-60s and overcast skies. The sun finally made its way from behind the clouds shortly after the top runners completed the 6.2-mile course that began in Squirrel Hill’s Frick Park. The predominantly downhill course finished near the overpass at Point State Park.
“I felt horrible during my warm up, which happens a lot times,” Bigham said. “You always think ‘I don’t know about today, but I’m going to push as hard as I can.’ I started really good at the 1-mile mark, and I said I’m just going to go for it.”
Bigham, who has run the race six years in a row, finished 1:44 ahead of Nicole Hilton of McDonald (35:46). Allison Goldstein (36:02) of Jersey City, N.J.; Hayley Germack (36:14) of Pittsburgh; and Maura Carroll (36:21) of Arlington, Va., rounded out the top five.
The men’s 10K title went to another local runner, Alex Archer, 24, of Sewickley. Archer (30:49) finished 41 seconds ahead of Travis Myers-Arrigoni (31:31) of Pittsburgh.
Archer, a former Pitt cross country and track standout and Vincentian Academy graduate, won the race in his third try after placing third last year.
“I thought I had a shot for the win, but I tried to run hard from the gun, just enjoy myself, enjoy the course and have a good time, “Archer said. “Probably at about 5 miles, I thought I had the race sealed, so I was just going for a good time and hold off second.”
Brandan Moretton of Pittsburgh edged Hunter Wharrey of Sewickley for third place after finishing with a time of 31:54. Wharrey finished in 31:58. Kenny Goodfellow (32:29) of Pittsburgh was fifth.
The 5K race, which started in Oakland at Fifth Avenue and Atwood Street, was highlighted by a couple, Clay and Lisa Burnett. The couple, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, each won for the third time in the 5K. Lisa has won in back-to-back years.
In the men’s race, Clay beat out Stewart Jones of Pittsburgh in a close finish. Clay finished with a time 14:41 and Jones at 14:44.
Burnett’s finish was just shy of the course record of 14:25 set by Martin Lyons in 1997. Last year, Burnett finished second to Goodfellow.
“When I made the turn around the river, I was feeling pretty spent. I heard the cheers for Stew, who has been a great competitor over the years,” Clay Burnett said. “I knew he was coming, and he passed me on the final curve. I just thought, ‘I’m going to give this all I got because I’ve trained pretty hard for this.’ ”
In the women’s race, Burnett won her second in a row with a time of 17:07. Allison Schroeder of Pittsburgh finished 45 seconds behind in 17:53.
This is the second time the Burnetts won the men’s and women’s 5K races.
“We were both close to our fastest times ever. We’re proud to do it with each other and to do it in front our kids. That’s pretty special,” Clay Burnett said.
The 10K hand-cycle had a couple of participants. Kaden Herchenroether, 14, of Allison Park, finished with a time of 19:27. David Gifford, 51, of Pittsburgh, finished in 18:29.