By Greg Gulas
From its record-setting 2,109 participants to its countless volunteers and many vendors, the 38th Youngstown Peace Race took center stage Sunday with the downtown and Mill Creek MetroParks on prominent display.
“This is my 21st year serving as race director, and I still get a thrill to see all of the people flock to downtown Youngstown for this annual event,” Ted Rupe said. “With a record-setting number of participants, we were absolutely thrilled with both the quantity and quality of the field.”
The free kids’ run at 9 a.m. attracted more than 100 participants while the 2-Mile run/walk a half-hour later drew 688 hopefuls. Both events served as the prelim to the highly anticipated 10K run.
“Some in the field did not finish the 10K, but the 1,134 that did complete the course met the challenge and had a great time,” Rupe added.
Dean DeMain, YSU police dispatcher, watched his son tackle the kids’ course while his wife, Gina, and daughter Emily took part in the 2-Mile run.
“This is such a great event; not only for the city of Youngstown but the entire Mahoning Valley,” he said.” It promotes peace here and abroad, and that to me is very special. It’s just an excellent event that the entire area can enjoy.”
Mahoning County Court Judge Diane Vettori, a Youngstown native currently serving in Sebring, has volunteered for the past three years.
She also has recruited other volunteers for the race.
“This is truly one of the most amazing days in Youngstown, ” she said. “We hear about all of the couch potatoes and those kids who would rather stay home with their PlayStations so to see the many kids come out and take part in such a healthy competition is just so rewarding.”
Laura Gerst, rehabilitation director at Agapi Mantos and 2-Mile race crew chief for 12 entrants from Park Vista Retirement Center had similar reasons to take part.
“My goal was to get everyone out so that they could reach their wellness goals,” Mantos stated.
“I’m a walker, not a runner, but this was really fun for me. It truly was a great experience,” Gerst added.
Volunteering to help took on adding meaning for Cori Pavlicko and six of her Alpha Omega Pi sorority sisters from Youngstown State University.
“We had two sisters running in the event and four others volunteering; first because we wanted to help out with such a special event and secondly, it is our plan next year to sponsor a Halloween 5K so we’re taking notes and asking a lot of questions,” Pavlicko said.
“Our national philanthropy is arthritis research and education so the tentative theme of our event would be Scare Out Arthritis.”