June 10, 2013

Biggest Loser Run/Walk inspirational, exciting


---- — PLATTSBURGH — About 2,000 spectators and runners enjoyed blue skies and temperatures in the 70s Sunday for the Biggest Loser Run/Walk.

“Coming out here and seeing people finish their goals is pretty inspiring to see,” said Hank Whisher, 21, of AuSable Forks, adding that the weather was perfect for the event.

Whisher was at the finish line waiting to see his sister, Jordan Hart, complete the race.

Sharon Sloan of Saranac cheered on other runners after she finished the race.

She lost 30 pounds after completing the North Country’s Biggest Loser adult fitness program, which ran from October 2012 to April of this year.

Since the program ended, she has lost an additional 10 pounds.

Sloan said she has gained “a considerable amount of strength” in her weight-loss journey.

She joined the North Country Lumber Jills to stay active after the fitness program, she said.


Brian Wilson, 30, of Cadyville, finished in first place, although his time was a minute more than when he ran the Plattsburgh Half Marathon in April at 1 hour, 23 minutes and 12 seconds.

The course was a double loop starting from Trinity Park onto Cumberland Avenue and down to the Terry Gordon Bike Path, continuing on to the U.S. Oval and finishing where it started.

“Psychologically, it’s a lot different,” Wilson said of running through the same locations twice. And since he was in first place for most of the race, there weren’t many other racers to pace with, he said.

Wilson said that even though the Biggest Loser Run/Walk was his 19th half-marathon, it was still a special experience for him.

“It’s a very humbling experience having people you’ve never met coming up congratulating you.”

Cassie Sellars, 36, of Plattsburgh, was the first woman to finish the half-marathon.

Even though she has finished first in previous races, “you always get a rush,” Sellars said.

She said the Biggest Loser philosophy can help people meet their fitness goals.

“I think it’s amazing to see some of these people do that (finish the race); to see their progression and how excited they get.”

Sellars’s two children, Kade, 6, and Mazie, 5, ran the children’s 5K race.

Her children love the race experience, she said.

“They get excited about cheering people on.”

Sue Ellen Coste, 57, of Morrisonville, finished the race in 3 hours, 15 minutes and 34 seconds.

“It seems like (it took) forever,” Coste said. It was difficult for her to describe her feelings right after she had crossed the finish line.

“I guess there are no words. I’m so tired but excited, thrilled.”

Coste ran the race to increase her fitness level and for health reasons, she said.

“If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

Meghan Haynes, 13, of Cambridge, N.Y., was the first girl and second runner overall to finish the kids’ run.

She was out of breath and mostly speechless when she crossed the finish line, but described the experience as “awesome.”

She had competed in other races, but said the Biggest Loser Run/Walk was different.

“It has more music,” Haynes said.


Jackie Evans, who was on season five of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” met with fans and cheered on race finishers with her son, Dan Evans.

To keep the weight off since the show, Jackie and Dan have been running half marathons, Jackie said.

The Plattsburgh event was their tenth as the national spokespeople for The Biggest Loser Run/Walk.

Even though most people won’t have a chance to compete on the show, anyone can participate in The Biggest Loser half-marathon, Jackie said.

“It makes exercise fun.”

Even the top finishers and the fittest runners have struggled, too, Jackie said.

And they support every competitor, regardless of his or her weight.

“They don’t judge you, they cheer you.”


Law enforcement and emergency workers said the day had been a safe one, for the most part.

“There’s been no issues at all,” said Plattsburgh City Police Lt. Scott Beebie shortly before 11 a.m. as he was patrolling the streets on foot near the finish line in front of City Hall. “At this point, we’ve had no problems.”

Four EMTs from the Plattsburgh City Fire Department were on duty at the race. Two were at the finish line and two were circling the course.

One man was sent to the hospital with a numb face, chest discomfort and an erratic heartbeat, said EMT Ryan Sponable. Other than that, there had been only a few runners with blisters and cramps, he said.

“You hope it’s just going to be bumps and bruises,” said EMT Phil Lamarche. “There’s always the potential that someone will push themselves too hard. It’s good we’re here in case anything does happen.”


Peggie Plosa of Rochester had a different story than most runners.

A breast cancer survivor, Plosa suffered a stroke in 1993 from a ruptured brain aneurysm, she said, and walked the 5K, tossing her cane aside for the last kilometer of the course.

She traveled 10 hours on a bus to reach Plattsburgh for the race, she said.

“It was very inspirational. The City of Plattsburgh is just awesome. I got so many hugs and high-fives. That’s why it took me so long (to finish),” Plosa said. “I hope they (the city) sponsor this again. I love it here.”

“You can’t let crisis get you down. (You) just have to keep going.”

— Staff photographer Kelli Catana contributed to this report.

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