COVID Can’t Dampen PIT Run Spirit

COVID Can’t Dampen

Annual PIT Run Spirit

Sid Parisian gives a celebratory fist-bump to Don Guinta, who ran the Pit Run course on what would have been Race Day, Sunday, Oct. 4. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA –  Even in the 27th year of the annual PIT Run, Sid Parisian said that his late brother’s spirit continues to find ways to surprise him.

“We’ve been doing a walk from the house to the park for our course,” he said. “And on Wednesday, Oct. 1, I checked to see how far it was, and it was exactly 5.20 miles.”

Trooper Ricky “Pit” Parisian was killed May 20, 1994, trying to stop a robbery at the Great American. The date is 5/20; the distance, 5.20 miles. “He continues to freak us out,” Sid said.

The walk is part of the Virtual Pit Run, which invites runners to tally up their miles throughout the month of October.

“It’s 62 miles, so that’s two miles a day,” said Sid. “That’s 10 10Ks for the month … Breaking it down, it’s like eating an elephant – one bite at a time.”

Though the annual Race Day event was cancelled due to COVID-19, the race itself was moved to a virtual format, allowing racers to choose when they run and on what course.

“It’s always a community event,” said Sid. “I know how healing it was for us in 1994, and I was hoping we could return that, but there was just no way to do it safely.”

Sunday, Oct. 4, the originally scheduled “race day,” the family gathered at the finish line, where the Unalam arch – styled after basketball hoops – was installed in 2018, to cheer on the racers who did take to the course that morning, including Don Guinta, husband of Deb’s college roommate, Susan, who came up from Long Island for the day. “It’s my third Pit Run,” he said. “And it feels good.”

He completed the 5K in 36:29. “He’s the first one over the finish line!” said Sid.

Others, like Kyle Breyer, a 15-year Pit Run veteran, kicked off his race at the corner of Main and River streets at 10:45. “It’s my first time running in four months,” he said. “It’s not the Pit Run, but let’s just say I decided to run the old Pit Run course.”

Though the number of registered racers was much lower – only 160, a far cry from the 1,400 that ran last year –there were more donations than ever before, Deb said. “We saw that, instead of registering to run, people just donated,” she said. “Last year we had $1,000 extra in donations, but this year, so far, we’ve had $3,000.”

The addition of the 100K has drawn the most participants, with 70 people signed up to take on the challenge. Daily totals are added to a virtual “leaderboard,” to determine who currently holds the highest rankings.

Registrations are still open through Oct. 15.

With the event itself cancelled – including the music and the post-race Brooks BBQ chicken dinner – 100 percent of the proceeds from the race go to the Ricky J. Parisian Memorial Scholarship fund.

And true to the legend that it never rains on Race Day, the grey skies gave way to sunshine on Sunday, Oct. 4.

“Now someone just needs to bring me a Brooks’ chicken dinner to eat in the park!” said Sid.

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