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Saturday, November 25, 2000 -- Uniontown, PA
Jingle Bell Run/Walk 5K for Arthritis
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]
[Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3] [Pic Set 4]

Sarah Caldwell
"The pleasure you get from life is equal to the attitude you put into it"
It was a cold, wet morning in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. But, that didn't keep a hearty crowd of runners and walkers from getting outside for a little fun, and some great racing. Even better, they were out to help raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation at the annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis.

It first appeared that the rain may hold off, but just as the 10:00am race start was underway, the rain came. Nothing too severe, and it certainly did nothing to dampen the spirits of the many participants.

The course was a mostly flat, out-and-back 5K. Beginning in front of the South Union Township Recreation Center, it was a relatively straight shot out to the community of Heritage Hills. Here, the turnaround marked the peak of a slight elevation gain for the first leg. As a result, the trip back rewarded everyone with a slight downhill.

Mike Bitner
The view almost everyone saw of Mike Bitner
In what quickly became a two-man race, Mike Bitner was off to a fast start with Eddie Filcheck in pursuit. Bitner led all the way through the turnaround, but Filcheck had his sights set on a fast return trip. He was familiar with the course and knew that the second half was easier than the first.

After the midway point, Filcheck kicked up the pace and made his move around Bitner. Not wanting to give Bitner a chance to hang on, he immediately attacked and built a sizeable gap. "He made a great move," said Bitner after the race. Filcheck's winning time was 17:19 followed by Bitner at 17:40.

Behind these leaders another great race was shaping up as Francis Molinaro led a tight group of runners through most of the race. But, as he made the final turn onto the finishing stretch, Jim Garlick surged ahead with the finish line in sight. Caught a little by surprise, Molinaro kicked for his sprint to the finish. It was enough to regain the advantage for a third overall in 19:06. Garlick quickly followed with a time of 19:10, fourth overall.

Schimansky & Claar
Angie Schimansky tries to hold off Susan Claar
Some exciting racing also took place in the women's field as Rita Cooper (22:14) finished with a 5K PR and her first ever overall win. Behind Cooper, Lynn Huggins (23:16) held the edge for second overall while Angie Schimansky and Susan Claar battled for third. With Schimansky holding the advantage for most of the race, the patient Claar saved her best for the finish. At the line it was Claar (23:26) nipping Schimansky (23:29) to grab third overall.

Among the walking crowd, the venerable Steve Bence (26:54) took his familiar spot in first overall. Finishing third overall, and the first female to walk her way to the finish was Jamie Brooks (29:23).

As more and more finishers crossed the line, it didn't take long for them to seek shelter in the recreation center. Here they were provided with a great assortment of refreshments to go along with a prompt awards ceremony and generous random prize drawing.

All the fun wouldn't have been possible with out the support of many sponsors and volunteers. Special thanks goes out to Teletech, Geibel Catholic High School, Conn Area Catholic High School, 2nd National Bank, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and the Fayette Striders. Last, but by no means least, a debt of gratitude is extend to all those that came out to participate and support the Arthritis Foundation.