May 21, 2014The scrumptious pizza was so thick with sausage you could barely slice it. And the air was so thick with tension outside Fortel's Pizza in Clayton on May 8, you also ... could barely slice it.
Tension filled the air for two big reasons: First, the annual St. Louis Great Race was about to begin and the contestants were getting antsy. Second, the skies were growing dark and the TV meteorologists were predicting severe spring weather.
Great Race TV weather personalities Katie Horner of KMOV News 4 and Angela Hutti of KTVI Fox 2 were checking out the weather radar on their smart phones. The storm front to the west was edging closer — even as the Great Race teams looked southward toward a contest finish line at the Shrewsbury MetroLink Station.
The contestants consisted of Team Transit destined to ride MetroLink, Team Bike, Team Carpool and finally, Team Carshare. Media folks enlisted in the race included yours truly as well as the local weather women
Yours truly being congratulated by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.
photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
Other media personalities on the various teams were: Heidi Glaus of KSDK NewsChannel 5, Todd Morgan of KHITS 96, Jean Ponzi of KDHX 88.1 FM and KTRS 550 AM, Riz and Tony Patrico from 105.7 The Point, Kevin the Intern of the Phillips & Company Morning Show on Y98, Jade Harrell from Majic 100.3, Felizia Medina of St. Louis Magazine and Julie Cohen of Sauce Magazine.
I confess that as a longtime member of the Enterprise Team Carshare, I did a fair share of working out to prepare for the race. This has involved using a tablet to check out a Carshare vehicle quickly, opening car doors swiftly and without hesitation, running through parking lots after emerging from cars.
All that workout regimen paid off on the evening of May 8, when I exited the car — after a harrowing trip — and bolted to the finish line at the Shrewsbury Station. Truth be told, I lagged a little behind Katie Horner and the gang from Enterprise.
Nevertheless, my newspaper cheering squad was there to greet me as I crossed the finish line: Fran Mannino, Jaime Mowers and, of course, our most fearless photographer, Diana Linsley. Linsley snapped photos at will as I collapsed on the ground, out of breath, but certainly not out of the pride that every winner feels after a tough – and perilously close — contest.
When all was said and done, the race stats broke down this way: Team Carshare: 20 min 14 sec; Team Transit: 21 min 12 sec; Team Bike: 23 min 30 sec; Team Carpool: 26 min 56 sec.
In all honesty, I felt a tinge of sympathy for the losers as my team was congratulated by such dignitaries as St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, and St. Louis County Councilmen Pat Dolan and Steve Stenger.
"This is the third year hosting this race, and each year, the anticipation surrounding this event heightens," commented Kim Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit.
"Participants always get into it and, at the end of the day, it does an excellent job of showcasing the many viable transportation options offered in our region," Cella noted. "And this year we were excited to add a unique twist with the Metro Market. This live visioning session served as a means to demonstrate what could be, at this, and other MetroLink stations, over and above a park-ride lot."
To view more photos of this writer embracing the winner's cup, go to our West End Word Facebook page. To learn more about the Great Race visit www.cmt-stl.org, find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CMTGreatRace or on Twitter @cmt_stl.