Duquesne graduate dominates Pittsburgh's Great Race field
A runner from Duke and another from the Dukes took top honors Sunday in the 37th running of the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race.
Duquesne University graduate Jim Spisak repeated as the men's champion, and former Duke University runner Carly Seymour was the women's champ.
Spisak, 23, of Pittsburgh dominated the field and shaved 11 seconds off his time from last year to win the 10-kilometer race in 28 minutes, 43 seconds. His nearest competitor, Justin Weaver of Greensburg, finished almost 3 minutes behind at 31:42.
“I had plans on taking it out (at the start) and seeing if anyone went with me. From there, I planned on assessing how I felt, and I felt all right and tried to keep a similar pace,” Spisak said. “If someone went out with me or not, either way, I was going to run my race.”
Almost 16,000 runners were registered for the 10K and 5K races, which began in Squirrel Hill and Oakland.
Spisak's pace in the 10K — 4:37 per mile — proved too fast for anyone to keep pace. As the runners entered Downtown on the course that began in Frick Park and ended at Point State Park, an announcement was made that the winner was leading by nearly a half-mile.
“I had an idea (how far ahead I was). I didn't look back, but I could hear what some of the people along the course were saying,” Spisak said. “I knew I had a good advantage, but I signed up and paid the entry fee, so I wanted to get a good effort out of it. I have some more races coming up in the fall, so now I'll take it easy a week and get right back to it.”
Seymour, 24, wasn't even running at this time last year.
She competed on the Duke track team through college but was out of competitive running for almost two years after suffering a stress fracture in her pelvis. A South Side resident, she ran in some Pittsburgh-area races this year before winning the Great Race in 34:02.
“I didn't run or move at all the last two years,” Seymour said. “I've been really surprised with how well I've been running. I haven't been doing workouts or anything, just running for fun and enjoying the city.”
Seymour, who won by 43 seconds over runner-up Jennifer Bigham of Pittsburgh, battled a nagging hamstring problem throughout the race but finished strong on the flat final mile.
“A lot of the downhill stretches I was (in pain), but when we got on the flatter ground I was good,” Seymour said. “I had just started back running, but I had to support Pittsburgh. I've done all the Pittsburgh races so far.”
Both winners share high school roots in Cambria County. Spisak is a graduate of Bishop McCort in Johnstown, and Seymour graduated from Central Cambria in Ebensburg.