The Inaugural Brookline Breeze
September 3, 1982

Runners take off at the start of the
Inaugural Brookline Breeze.

Running A 'Breeze' In Brookline

What can the “Brookline Breeze” do for an encore?

With more than 300 entries in the first annual three-mile run, director Dan O’Brien was able to label the Labor Day contest as “great.”

“Overall, everyone seemed to be satisfied. Everything went really well,” said O’Brien, a Brookline resident and an avid runner himself. “From what I’ve been told, a first-year race averages about 100 to 150 runners. We had 332 registrants. And I think without the holiday and the Labor Day 10K in Boyce Park, it could have been bigger.

Runners head up Brookline Boulevard
at the start of the Brookline Breeze.
Runners head up Brookline Boulevard at the start of the first Brookline Breeze.

“What was so nice about it, is there were a lot of people who never ran in a race before and didn’t know what to expect. They were impressed by the organization, as were people who were used to running (in races),” added O’Brien.

O’Brien’s former roommate at Clarion State College, 23-year old Bruce Kemmerer, another serious runner, collected the overall first place prize with a time of 14:45.

Kemmerer was followed by Tom Abbott of Carrick, who registered a 15:06 mark.

David Thompson (Brentwood), Bob Berg and Vinny Accardi completed the list of top five finishers in the race.

Susan Gailey of Mt. Lebanon
was the first-place female.
Susan Gailey of Mt. Lebanon was the first woman to cross the finish line. She
is followed by Mike Romano of Brookline, a student at Brashear High School.

The three fastest females were Susan Gailey (17:45) of Mt. Lebanon, Brookline’s Jill Julin (18:43) and Chris Scarvelis of Dormont.

In all, 100 ribbons, eight trophies, 27 statue plaques and 26 medals were distributed to the contestants.

Sponsors of the Breeze were: Roger’s Falcon, Stop-Smoking Center, Jim Pantelis, R.P.S. Inc., Party Cake Bakery, American Legion Post #540, Brosky’s Sports Center, the Brookline Lions Club, Citiparks and Converse.

Bruce Kemmerer receives his first-place trophy    Susan Gailey receives her trophy
as the top female runner.
Overall winner Bruce Kemmerer (left), and first-place female Susan Gailey, receive their trophy
from Tim Decker, Dan O’Brien and Jim Turcol.

Many prizes were donated by various Chamber of Commerce merchants.

Proceeds of the race will be used to purchase equipment in the Our Lady of Loreto basketball program and the Brookline Boxing Club.

The first Loreto cager to cross the finish line was Frank Wertz, an eighth grader, while 17-year old Kevin McAndrews was the fastest Brookline Boxing runner.


Race staff members Mike Radley and Jim Turcol give instructions to
race volunteers before the start of the Brookline Breeze.

Other highlights of the race included:

- Mike Oliver, age seven, of Brookline, who was the youngest competitor of the day.

- Nick Volanski of Bethel Park, who listed his age at “over-60,” was the oldest runner.

- Anthony Chiodo of Brookline concluded first in the male 11-to-15 age group and Father John Marcucci of Resurrection Church took the runner-up spot in the make 40-to-49 age group.

- Kathy McConnell of Brookline was the second-place qualifier in the female 11-to-15 age group and Jeanine Hartman of Brookline finished second in the female 16-to-19 age group.

  
Flo and Ethel Oliver (left) of Brookline volunteered to distribute refreshments, and Chris Michele,
a fifth grader at Our Lady of Loreto, examines pins for the other runners.

Prizes were contributed by the following members of the Brookline Chamber of Commerce: A-Boss Opticians, Stebbrook Pharmacy, Charlson’s, Fred’s Hardware, Nolan’s Home and Auto, Brookline Distributing Company, Pop N’ Brew, Lachina Draperies, Anthony’s Bath Shop, The Better Half, Doc’s Variety, Frances Gift Shop and Demma’s Meat Market.

Additional members of the Brookline Chamber of Commerce who contributed prizes to the race were: L. Pullia and Son, Brookline Jeweler, Lattney Jeweler Inc., South Hills Art Center, Don Nicole Pizza, Town & Country, Blue Bonnet Bakery, Bryant’s Hardware, Boulevard Men’s Shop, Enforcers Softball Team, Hank’s Dog House and the Brookline Knights Football Association.

Along with O’Brien, Jim Turcol, Tim Decker and Mike Radley made up the core of this year’s race committee.

The late registrations were handled by
Judi Radley, Marian Smoody and Ann Turcol.
The late registrations were handled by Judi Radley,
Marian Smoody and Ann Turcol.

The race committee also cited the special efforts of the following volunteers: Judi Radley, Ann Turcol and Elaine Quinque, who worked at the registration table; the Brookline Boxers, who acted as marshalls on the course; Citiparks employees Chuck Senft, Michelle Trapolsi, Polly Herron and Ray Fisher; Bob Stoehr, sound technician; Wendy’s for outdoor advertising; and Ryan Timing Services.

“I really feel good about the whole thing. People are still coming up to me and remarking at how smooth it went,” concluded O’Brien, “I’m looking forward to next year already.”

“We just want to make it bigger and better.”

Ken Kwasniewski of Dormont and Dan Cupples of
Brookline didn’t finish in the top 100, but
they were the two best-dressed in the race.
Ken Kwasniewski of Dormont and Dan Cupples of Brookline
didn’t finish in the top 100, but they were
the two best-dressed in the race.

The Top 100 Finishers
click on image to enlarge

The top 100 finishers

* Reprinted from The Brookline Journal - September 15, 1982 *

Note: From 1982 to 1985 the race was a three-mile run, rather than the traditional 5K (3.1 miles). Beginning in 1986, the extra .1 mile was added via a short detour through the St. Pius X church parking lot.

Breezin' In Brookline - 1982

Runners warm up before the start of
the first 3-mile Brookline Breeze run.
Runners warm up before the start of the first 3-mile Brookline Breeze run.

Reminiscences of the Inaugural Breeze

Thirty-two years after the Inaugural Brookline Breeze, one of the race founders, Mike Radley, a former Breeze race director himself, reminisced on some of the details of that first race:

"Jim Turcol took charge and coordinated all of the timing and scoring for the 3 mile inaugural event using the pull tag system, which required runners to remove the bottom portion of their runners bib and hand it to volunteers who then placed in on a wire loop spindle. If an unregistered runner finished, the volunteer chute worker inserted a blank tag (known then as a turkey tag) to keep the system accurate."

"Jim took all of the registration data and matched it with the finish spindles. He then matched a chronomex timer print out, which looked like the paper tape from an old adding machine, with the individual pull tags on the spindles. He was able to record the overall winners and age group winners using this time consuming process ... but he got it right! Today the enitire system is computerized."

"Dan coordinated the majority of the inaugural event from knocking on doors for sponsors to logo design and promotions for the entire event. Dan worked with everyone at the Recreation Center to solicit cooperation as the start and finish was in the park and remains there today. Dan's leadership is what made the event possible."

"Jim Turcol and Dan O'Brien were probably the best runners in Brookline at the time. Both ran in High School and in College. I remember a great picture of the two running either the first or second Pittsburgh Marathon appearing in one of the local papers."

"Dan and Jim were well respected as community race organizers at the time. They knew all of the runners and race directors from the 1970's and 1980's. Working as volunteers, they introduced the Breeze to Brookline."

"They took me under their wing, coaching me on how to advance from running laps around the football field at Moore Park to road racing on the streets of Pittsburgh. They taught me a great deal of road race management as well. My role at the first Breeze was small in comparison to that of Jim Turcol and Dan O'Brien. They were the running pioneers for Brookline."

Mike Radley, Jim Turcol and Dan O'Brien at
the receiving recognition awards at the 25th Breeze
in 2006. At the mic is Debbie Brust, another
long-time director of the Brookline Breeze.
Mike Radley, Jim Turcol and Dan O'Brien receiving recognition awards at the
25th anniversary Breeze in 2006. At the microphone is Debbie Brust,
another long-time director of the Brookline Breeze.

Note: Mike Radley went on to become the Director of Pittsburgh Citiparks and was, for many years, the point man for the annual Richard S. Caligiuri Great Race. Mike retired in 2013 and is now a consultant. He is still active in an advisory role with the Brookline Breeze. Dan O'Brien has continued to participate in the Breeze, missing the last two years but staying in touch as an advisor. Jim Turcol now lives out of state, but still manages to make it north on occasion to run the Breeze.

Mike Radley and Michelle Underwood-Trapolsi
at the 32nd Breeze on August 10, 2013.
Mike Radley and Michelle Underwood-Trapolsi at the 32nd Breeze on
August 10, 2013. Both were both present at the first Breeze.

The Brookline Breeze 5K Fitness Run/Walk
Thirty-Two Years and Still Running

What can the "Brookline Breeze" do for an encore?

Keep on Breezin'!

Over the past thirty-two years, the Breeze has matured into an August tradition here in Brookline. In 2006, a Community Festival was introduced at Brookline Park to coincide with the race festivities. The festival has since grown into the Brookline Boulevard BreezeFest, a merchant sidewalk sale along the boulevard that includes rides, games and other attractions.

The Brookline Breeze 5K Fitness Run/Walk itself has grown to include a One-Mile Mini-Breeze for kids and a One-Mile Dog Walk. Total enrollment in the Breeze has also risen over the years. There were 814 participants enrolled in the 2013 Brookline Breeze.

With an increased awareness in fitness and healthy living, it is hoped that attendance at future Brookline Breeze events will continue to grow.

Runners and walkers head up Brookline Boulevard at the
start of the 32nd Brookline Breeze on August 10, 2013.

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