By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star
---- — The cloudy skies and cool temperatures Sunday for the 19th annual Pit Run in Oneonta might not have been perfect for watching the race, but they were nearly perfect for running, the 10-kilometer men’s winner said.
“I like it colder,” Joshua Edmonds of Cooperstown said. “I thought it was a little warm last year.”
Nearly 1,000 runners participated in the 5K and 10K races, and hundreds more participated in a fun run for kids and a 2-mile stroll, all of which wound through the city’s streets and ended in Neahwa Park.
The races and stroll raised money for scholarships in memory of Ricky “Pit” Parisian, a state police investigator who was shot dead May 20, 1994, when he tried to stop a supermarket robbery in Oneonta while off duty.
Mark Parisian, one of his brothers, ran in the 10K on Sunday and finished in 58:43.
“I did really great,” he said. “I came in at 58 minutes, so it’s under an hour. That’s what I was shooting for. I felt really good.”
Parisian also felt good about the turnout, with 474 runners registered for the 5K race, 503 registered for the 10K and hundreds more participating in the stroll.
“You look around, and you see lots of first and second annuals,” he said. “But you don’t see too many 19th annual things. We’re very proud of that, not only as organizers, but as family members, too — that people still come out and remember Rick.”
Asked whether he was relieved that the big day was over for another year, Parisian said he was, but added that he already had begun working on next year’s event.
“It’s not only relief but excitement,” he added. “It’s an excitement that people are still appreciating it.”
Kim Brake of Oneonta, who had two sons running in the 5K race, was impressed by the run and the scene.
“It’s inspiring,” she said, adding that she wanted to start training to run next year.
And that’s part of what drives the Parisians, the 100 volunteers and the numerous sponsors.
“And even if people that come down to be a part of this and they learn of Rick today for the first time, then that’s a success, too,” Mark Parisian said.
He said he expected Sunday’s events would raise about $18,000 to $20,000 for the Ricky J. Parisian Memorial Scholarship Foundation, which awards scholarships to Oneonta High School graduates.
Edmonds was joined by Amanda LoPiccolo of Oneonta, the women’s 10K winner, for an Otsego County sweep. The 5K race, on the other hand, was all Delaware County, with Julie Hilson of Bovina Center winning women’s division and Eli Townsend of Delhi winning the overall race.’
The all local character of the race, along picnic served up Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Q’s, one of the sponsors, made the day a community celebration.
“We’ve been approached before about elite runners coming in, but they wanted to be paid,” Mark Parisian said. “This is a fundraiser. We’re not paying anybody to run in our race. It’s really nice to see the local people come in and have a chance to win.”
“We don’t have elite runners in the area, but we have a lot of good runners,” he added. “So, to see a local person come in, it’s a really neat thing.”
The races did attract runners from far away, such as Arizona, North Carolina and California, but the vast majority were from New York, including teams that Parisian said were formed specifically for the Pit Run.
Sunday’s event was dedicated to the memory of Dr. James Elting, an Oneonta orthopedic surgeon and a former member of the scholarship foundation’s board. Elting died in August at the age of 73.