When Trent Binford-Walsh tried to sign up for the 2011 Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race, all the spots already were filled.
Not wanting to miss out on the event again in 2012, Binford-Walsh made sure he beat all the other competitors to the sign-up sheet.
"It fills up really quickly, so I signed up eight months ago, I think," Binford-Walsh said. "Like, right after the  Great Race ended."
On Sunday, he also beat the other competitors on the course.
Binford-Walsh took the lead just before the three-mile mark and never trailed again in winning the 35th running of the Great Race.
The 23-year-old, who is a senior studying biology at the University of Pittsburgh, finished the 10K run with a time of 30:47.
2010 Great Race champion Sam Luff, 26, of Washington, placed second with a time of 30:59, while early race leader Lucas Zarzeczny, 23, of Pittsburgh, came in third with a time of 31:21.
"I'm surprised," Binford-Walsh said. "My time wasn't as fast as [the winners from] other years, so I'm kind of surprised I won. But it was fun. It was great."
Binford-Walsh, who is originally from Bethlehem, Pa., said he originally heard about the race last year when he saw advertisements while traveling around the city. But when he went to sign up, there were no spots left, which he admitted was probably a good thing since he had only been running once a week at the time.
Motivated to compete in the 2012 event, Binford-Walsh began running on a daily basis. He also joined the Pitt cross county club and competed in approximately 10 running events in the past year, a few of which were 10K races.
But he never ran as fast as he did Sunday, setting a 10K personal record by almost 45 seconds.
It was a quick pace to start the race, which began at Frick Park. Zarzeczny raced to the front and led by almost 20 yards after the first two miles. Zarzeczny ran cross country and track at Penn State, but this was his first competition since graduating in 2010.
"I haven't run in a year and a half, so I kind of just went with it," Zarzeczny said. "I felt good ... I didn't expect to do this well. I only started training a month ago."
Binford-Walsh said that Zarzeczny jumping out to an early lead helped him keep pace.
"I'm usually all about speeding ahead, but he was so far ahead I didn't want to catch up to him," Binford-Walsh said. "But it worked out to my advantage because it kept me at a fairly evenly pace."
Almost four minutes after Binford-Walsh crossed the finish line at Point State Park, Sara Raschiatore held off a late charge from Roberta Groner to win the women's 10K race. Both women finished with an official time of 30:46, although it was clear that Raschiatore won the event.
Raschiatore, 34, of Leechburg, was neck-and-neck with Samantha Bonk, who placed third, at the three-mile mark.
"For the first few miles I was running with the same girl and at the end, when somebody was coming from behind me, I thought it was [Bonk], but it wasn't," Raschiatore said. "It got a little scary."
It was the fourth time Raschiatore ran in the Great Race. She placed third in 2006 and fourth last year, but her time Sunday was 1:06 faster than her previous best at the race.
Earlier Sunday, Justin Taylor won the men's 5K race with a time of 15:09 and Kristen Leslie (17:58) won the women's 5K race.
First Published October 1, 2012 4:00 AM