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July 4th race "A" good time

July 11, 2011 - Erik Brown
Editor's note: Well, I did it again... neglected this blog so long that I need to begin with yet another sheepish apology to my readers. Fortunately, my friend and fellow runner, Joe Shuta has stepped up with another guest column to get Against The Wind back on it's feet and moving forward. Without further adieu then...

July 4th race "A" good time... By Joe Shuta

Even though it's summer, it's report card time for this year's 37th running of the Hollidaysburg Area YMCA races.

The Old: A million thanks to John Foreman, his father, John Sr., Angie Gioiosa, Lee Baranik, and Bob Jones, along with numerous volunteers, for their work over the years to get this race off the ground and to continue to keep it running.

The New: YMCA executive director Tom Kopriva along with numerous helpers have continued to make this race the highlight of the year for the running community.

Sponsors: Without the help of Sheetz, Roaring Spring Bottled Water, The Altoona Mirror, Logan Valley Chiropractic, and the Teeter Group, this race could not be run on such a large scale.

Restroom Facilities: With the Altoona Transportation Center being closed this year, it made for long porta-john lines and some anxious moments before the race.

Start Line: Obviously, some runners don't understand the system for lining up for a race. Runner's World looked at the bib numbers of runners who lined up in the front row of several races and checked the finish time of each. The results - only 13% deserved to be in the front row. By far, most of those at the front should have been many rows further back. The lesson to be learned: you have to earn your position in the pack. If you were clearly visible in the Altoona Mirror photo at the start of the race, were you a top ten finisher? If not, know your place.

Weather: 70 degrees, low humidity. Better than 80 degrees and high humidity.

Atmosphere: Plenty of spectators and best of all, great to see so many families sharing time at the race.

Timing: B Tag attached to bib number a great idea!

Traffic Control: Outstanding, except for the fact that Altoona Police officers ignored my request at 17th Street to stop all runners behind me for the next ten minutes. Considering how many runners passed me, they apparently encouraged them to pick up the pace.

Music: Great idea to have music at Heritage Plaza, and it was a real boost to have the two musicians playing in front of the AAHS Fieldhouse.

Finish Line: Terrific setup, great crowd cheering on runners. Carolyn Donaldson announcing the names of finishers was a nice touch. However, her announcement, "Joe Shuta coming to the finish...", followed by a pause, then "Sixty years old!", should have been followed by, "The senior van is waiting to take you back to the home."

Timing Results: Quick and efficient. However, we old folks need the results to be printed with A LARGER FONT.

Awards: A plethora of awards for runners and walkers in numerous categories.

Food: Parfait is a French word literally meaning "perfect." Sheetz knows how to make perfect parfaits, and their sandwiches were delicious too!

Final Grade: "A".

Editor's note: Joe taught Spanish for many years for the Altoona Area School District. He is also a public address announcer for football games and track meets at Mansion Park, and he is the host of Leading Off, a sports talk show that airs Wednesdays at 6:00 PM on WFBG (1290 AM). Joe is the "always challenging trivia question" guy. He is also a very accomplished distance runner, having completed six ultramarathons (the Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile Ultra four times, and the JFK 50 Mile Ultra twice). As you now know, one of his (many) pet peeves, is not-fast people who line up too close to the front row.

Thanks for reading Against The Wind!

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