By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA — Rain had just started to drizzle in Neahwa Park, Sunday, Oct. 3, as the start of the annual Pit Run was set to begin.
But some of the runners said they were thankful for the rain as it cooled things down, making it easier for them.
There was a diverse group of runners who came from seven states other than New York, including California, Maine, New Hampshire and Virginia.
Brian Reis, 32, a Cooperstown native*, came in first place for the men’s 10K and called it a “dress rehearsal” for the Boston marathon, which he is set to run Monday, Oct. 11.
“It’s hilly,” Reis said. “They call it the city of the hills for a reason.”
Reis said he has been running long distance for three years and used to run for Cooperstown.
Michael Hamilton placed second in the 10K and Tom Slicer placed third.
In the women’s 10K, Sara Szollosy placed first, with Lydia Dillen and Maureen Sheehan placing second and third respectively.
The first place winners of the 10K receive $500.
The ages of runners ranged from seven to 80.
John Brosnan, 80, said he runs every day.
“I ran all my life really,” Brosnan said. “The cops won’t catch up with me.”
Oneonta High School was well represented with members of the wrestling team competing in the run. Korbin Jones, 17, finished the 5K followed closely by his fellow cross country teammates Brandon Gardner, 16, and Nick Kahl, 16.
“I’m just glad I was able to beat them,” Jones said.
Ken Schaff, 68, said he “struggled” but he was happy the 5K was “mostly downhill.”
The Pit Run was started in honor of Ricky “Pit” Parisian, a state trooper who was killed attempting to stop an armed robbery in Oneonta while off duty in 1994.
The proceeds for the races go to the Ricky J. Parisian Memorial Scholarship Fund, which gives a scholarship to a graduating senior from Oneonta High School
New SUNY Oneonta President Alberto Cardelle ran in the race and said he had to make sure “he didn’t fall down in the middle of the race.”
Cardelle said he heard of the Pit Run “even before I took this job” and it was a part of being in “the community as an individual and as part of the campus.”
Hartwick College President Margaret Drugovich gave a speech thanking the Pit Run for raising money for scholarships.
“The fact that you’re here to raise money in Ricky Parisian’s name is inspiring to me and I hope the Parisian family is inspired, too,” she said.
Prior to the race, Mayor Gary Herzig proclaimed “Oneonta is back” to the waiting spectators.
“I don’t think there’s anything that epitomizes Oneonta’s strength (more) than this event, the Pit Run,” Herzig said. “The most important people here are the runners. So thank you for being here today.”
Sid Parisian, Ricky’s brother, said in a speech he was amazed by how the Pit Run had grown and was glad to see how the spirit of his brother was being honored.
“We had our first Pit Run and didn’t know what to expect,” Parisian said. “It amazes me to this day to have over 1,000 people. … Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
* An earlier version of this story said Brian Reis lived in California.