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
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
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
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
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.
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
- 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
- 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
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 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
“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
“We just want to make it bigger and
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
* 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.
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
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
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
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.