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Saturday, August 23, 2008 -- Uniontown, PA
Main Street Classic 5K Run/Walk for the Homeless (iPO Event Id#: 10845)

[Details] [Coverage] [Photos] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]

Coverage: [2005] [2006] [2007]

Story and photos by Don Parks

Good times with friends in Uniontown
Four years ago the first Main Street Classic 5K Run/Walk for the Homeless was completed by just 73 runners and walkers on a rainy Saturday morning. That didn't seem to discourage Vicki Yaugher and all the Uniontown volunteers that are working hard to support City Mission, the leading provider of homeless services in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Fast forward to this past Saturday and the fourth running of the event...

It was a beautiful sunny morning with temperatures rather mild for the middle of August and 143 participants were headed to the starting line. The race venue at downtown Uniontown's Storey Square was packed in an almost carnival type atmosphere. Sponsors set up a number of booths with games, give-aways, and pre-race food and drinks of all sorts.

Race Start
Getting the racing started
Then there is the race course, a looping route that makes its way back and forth through downtown city streets. It seems that this would be a recipe for disaster with confused competitors trying to find their way in a maze of dangerous traffic. But again the race organizers had their bases covered. A combination of closed streets, blocked off lanes, and a plethora of police and volunteers patrolling the intersections had the situation under control.

Now on to a little about the competitors.

Uniontown's own Anthony Cecchini took the lead early and cruised to an overall win in a time of 17:50.9. And just like the race itself, success has not come easy for Cecchini. The 16-year-old sophomore at Laurel Highlands High School was born with the hurdle that is autism, but he's showing no signs of letting it slow him down.

The women's winner, finishing fifth overall, was Heather Parks with a time of 18:53.6. This may seem like just another win for the one time runner for West Virginia University and a top 50 finisher at the 2004 marathon Olympic Trials, but the 33-year-old is just a little over six months removed from giving birth to her first child. Ask any mother and they'll tell you it's no easy task gaining back that pre-baby form.

The joy of a little hard work
Now certainly everyone can't finish first and someone has to finish last. This later distinction went to Donna and Tim Sandstrom who were participating in the walk. But there were only smiles and enthusiasm as they crossed the line in just under 55 minutes. You see, Donna has lost 50 lbs. so far this year and this was her first ever 5K. She also crushed her goal of finishing in under an hour, something she was unable to due in her training on a treadmill. Now her sites are on bigger things as she continues her training for Pittsburgh's Great Race this fall.

There is no doubt that many more great stories could be found among all the runners and walkers. You should be sure to head to Uniontown next August so that you can share yours or just enjoy all this fabulous event has to offer.