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Mayor hits pavement to promote race's benefits to the area



Published: Mon, October 23, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



There were 1,160 finishers in two events.

By JOHN KOVACH

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mayor Jay Williams not only believes in the Youngstown Peace Race and the benefits that it has brought to the area for more than three decades, but he also trained for and ran in the 32nd annual event Sunday -- and did very well.

Williams, 35, placed 397th out of 674 runners in the 10-kilometer race through Mill Creek Park, and then heaped praise on the race, gave a talk at the awards ceremony at the Central YMCA, and stuck around until almost the end of the event past 1:30 p.m.

"I finished. I could have done better. I hope to do better next time," said Williams, who noted that he began training for the Peace Race early in August.

"This is good for the city. I saw people from all over. It brings everyone together. It promotes our city and Valley."

The race attracted 1,160 finishers -- 674 in the 10-k race and 486 in the 2-mile event.

Mayor thanks Cessna

During the awards ceremony, Williams thanked Jack Cessna, the Peace Race founder who was in the audience, for creating such a positive attraction for Youngstown.

"We appreciate what you have done for the city," Williams said to Cessna. "I will continue to do whatever I can do to keep this race going."

Cessna, who was the driving force behind the growth and development of the race during its formative and early years, was called to the podium to address the gathering.

He credited the success of the race to "the work of all the volunteers over the years." And then he emphasized happily: "This race just glows."

And he pointed out, "I'm pleased that the prize money has opened up to the foreign runners."

Cessna, formerly from Youngstown and now of New Hartford, always had encouraged foreign entries when he was directing the event, and in fact the race previously was called the Youngstown International Peace Race.

Cessna had another reward at the race: His daughter, Anna, 9, ran in the 2-mile event and was timed in 16:50 for 81st overall and third-place in her women's 11-and-under age class to win an award.

And Cessna, 62, also ran in the 2-mile run and placed 96th in 17:29.

Rupe explains change

Ted Rupe, the Peace Race director, said that the past few Peace Races have been very successful in attracting entries.

As a result, he said the Peace Race decided to open up the prize money to foreign runners, who always had been invited to the race but were not eligible to win any money for the past several years because they virtually had been sweeping the purses.

"We have been having good turnouts for the race and increased revenues so we decided to improve the quality of the field," said Rupe as the reason for allowing foreign runners -- especially the Kenyans -- to be eligible to win money. So, "We spread the money around more."

The Kenyans responded to the generous gesture by sweeping the top three men's and women's 10-k races Sunday and winning a collective purse of 4,500.

Rupe echoed Cessna about the value of volunteerism to the Peace Race.

"We probably have at least 50 volunteers," said Rupe. "It takes a lot of help. We have a lot of cooperation."

Shrodek, Stall win 2-mile runs

Michael Shrodek, 43, of Warren was the overall winner in the 2-mile run in 11:09 by two seconds over Bill Hess, 42, of Niles ((11:11). Then came Daniel Wright of Canfield (11:29), Pete Vilasi, 41, of Sharpsville (11:46) and Steve Babyak, 39, of Mentor in 11:54.

The top female in the 2-mile was Kristie Stall, 14, of Boardman in 13:19 for 18th overall, followed by Mindy Frazer, 38, of Sharon (14:03, 30th overall); Danae Kempe, 12, of Canfield (14:08, 31st); Renay Choma, 39, Austintown (14:38, 43rd) and Kayla Malmeldt, 12, of Lake Milton (14:42, 45th).

kovach@vindy.com




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