Former Ohio State soccer player wins women's race

Former Ohio State soccer player wins women's race Recent Pitt track team member takes men's title
Monday, September 26, 2011
By Chris Adamski, Tri-State Sports & News Service Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette

Ohio State's all-time leading women's soccer scorer when she graduated five years ago, Lisa Burnett hadn't taken up distance running until her soccer career was over.
Heading into the weekend, she hadn't run a competitive 10K in her life.

Burnett, 28, who lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, previously had been to Pittsburgh twice.

And she hadn't even registered for the Great Race until six days before it was run.

Wearing a bib she acquired using Craigslist a week ago because the race already was sold out, Burnett was the virtual wire-to-wire winner Sunday among women of the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race 10K.

"I never looked back the whole time," said Burnett, a native of Michigan who finished the race in 35 minutes, 15 seconds. "I heard the crowd every time I went by say, 'First girl,' but I really didn't look back the entire race -- which is good for me, because usually I'm checking all the time. I'm not really that mature of a racer."
Curtis Larimer has much more experience in distance running. A member of the Pitt track team before graduating in 2008, Larimer had placed among the top 10 twice previously at the Great Race. He won the men's competition Sunday with a time of 30:48.

"Last year, somebody darted out from the front, and we were all chasing the whole race," said Larimer, who is working on his doctorate in materials science at Pitt. "[This year] the first mile was uncommonly slow. I think everyone was looking around at each other wondering who was going to go first."

A large pack of about 18 emerged throughout most of the first mile, thinning to less than half of that by the second mile marker. By mile marker No. 3, a pack of Larimer, Josh Christopher of Pittsburgh, David Mock of Imperial, Justin Taylor of Wexford and defending champion Sam Luff of Rockville, Md., had separated itself from the rest of the runners.

Mock took off as the group embarked on an upward slope along the Boulevard of the Allies as it headed toward Duquesne University.

"I wanted to try to make a move, try to thin out the pack a little," Mock said. "So I put on a little surge going up the hill. But once we got to the top, I was a little tired, and [Larimer] still had some life left in his legs, so he put some distance on me and it stayed that way the rest of the way."

Larimer, who grew up in Colorado and lives in Oakland, crossed the finish line in Point State Park eight seconds ahead of Christopher, another former Pitt track athlete.

His arms raised but his expression hidden behind red sunglasses and a scruffy beard as he broke through the tape at the finish line, Larimer, 25, hugged Christopher after he finished.

"It was fun, and this is very special," Larimer said. "My parents were here in town, and I got married this year and my wife is my biggest fan. To hear her cheering for me, too, was pretty special for me."

Finishing seventh among men was Clay Burnett, who is Lisa Burnett's husband.

"I knew the competition would be good here, because this is known as a huge race, so we were pretty excited to start it," Clay Burnett said.

Lisa Burnett's bib read "Michelle Harris," who was forced to give up her registration because she became pregnant.

Even the announcers at the finish line proclaimed Harris as the victor.

"We had a laugh about that," Lisa Burnett said.

"It was a great course, lot of fun," she added. "You go through some real nice neighborhoods and a little in the downtown area, which was cool. But the best part was there was people all over every part of the course, and coming in [Point State Park] was perfect because they just lined all over the place. Just the energy for such a big race is really cool."

Burnett, who plans on running the Columbus Marathon next month as part of an effort to qualify for the Olympic Trials, beat runner-up Cheryl Collins-Gatons of Greensburg by 45 seconds.

Heather Melzer of Mars won the women's 5K in 18:27. Pittsburgh's Mark Grogan (15:15) won the men's 5K.

Read more: