Jingling all the way, runners raise funds for a cause

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Unexpected sun shone on the North Shore as 3,000 runners dressed as elves and Santas set out on the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis with bells jingling on their running shoes.

The run had exceeded its $120,000 goal before the Saturday morning start and was marred only by a dispute over the course length after it was over.

According to Kristina Waltman, development director for the Arthritis Foundation, the course around Heinz Field had been certified by USA Track & Field as a 3.1-mile or 5K course, but runners were misdirected and ran only about 2.7 miles.

She declined to elaborate on how the mistake happened "but the course ended up shorter than expected," she said. "We did have some complaints, but I hope everyone keeps in mind what this event was for and that is to raise money for arthritis research, education and programming."

The winner was Daniel Spaulding, 25, of Valencia, a Westinghouse Electric employee, whose time of 13:31 was 21 seconds faster than the runner-up's.

Ms. Waltman had been worried by the drenching rain the day before the race. "It turned out really great," she said.

She expects race proceeds to rise as fees and donations from race day are counted. Her chapter of the Arthritis Foundation serves 19 counties in Pennsylvania.

Gregg and Annette Soxman of Plum walked their poodles, Tanner, Toby and Molly, in the race. Molly, the smallest, was decked out in a Santa suit while the much larger Tanner and Toby wore colorful Christmas bell collars. Mr. Soxman is a physician's assistant in the orthopedic department at UPMC, which does many hip and knee replacements due to arthritis.

"It's very important to try to raise money to find better therapies for people with arthritis," he said.

Jackie Yahner of Shaler and Katie Irvine of West Deer had no personal connection to arthritis, but enjoy running together in local races. They were decked out in green velveteen elf skirts with jingling bells, red-white-and-green-striped knee socks and elf hats over their red race shirts.

"It's good to spread holiday cheer for a good cause," Ms. Irvine said.

neigh_city - health

Ann Rodgers: arodgers@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1416.


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