CCAC 5k

Community College of Allegheny County English professor Stephen Wells started running for exercise 11 years ago because his pants didn’t fit him anymore.

Today, at 51 years old, those pants fit him again. He also wears the title of winner in his division of the inaugural CCAC South Cross Campus 5K. Wells finished the 3.1-mile course in 26:45 to finish first in the men’s 50-59 age group.

“There were only three of us,” he says with a laugh.

Those three were among 67 people who participated in the event, held Oct. 14 on the South Campus. The entire route was paved, and it being Pittsburgh there were some rolling hills.

“It was a good route,” Wells says. “We have a big campus. We’re spread out with over 300 acres.”

The event was a family affair for Wells, whose mother, Margaret; wife, Jennifer; and daughter, Meghan, 20, walked the route. His other daughter, Ally, 17, ran with him.

He’s a proud papa as Ally won her age group, finishing in 28:51.

This wasn’t Wells’ first 5K. He started running to lose weight when he was 40, and quickly him shed 20 pounds. Now he runs for pleasure and exercise.

Wells said the event drew a good mix of CCAC employees and students.

Victor Yates, a 25-year-old liberal arts and science major running in his first 5K, won the men’s 20-29 age group in 24:08.

“I wanted to start a fitness club on campus and I thought this could help promote being healthy,” Yates says.

Student Development Specialist Abby Hindman urged him to run.

“The race was awesome,” he says. “I’m a sprinter, so I don’t run that far very much. There were a couple hills, a couple challenges for me.

“I was winded around the third mile, but one of my good friends, Omer Mukhtar, ran with me and motivated me.

Mukhtar finished second in his age group.

The run was a great way to enjoy the beauty of the campus, which you may not be able to do while driving. The temperature was in the low 40s, perfect for runners.

The idea of CCAC holding its own 5K had been kicked around for years, Wells says.

“There’s more focus on the fitness of our students and connecting physical fitness with academic performance. When you exercise, you think more clearly and you perform better,” he says. “We are looking more at the whole student, rather than focusing just on academics.”

Wells is encouraged school officials are planning to hold the event again in 2019.

“This was well-organized with plenty of volunteers cheering us on, with plenty of water and food after,” he says. “It was a lot of fun to be out there in a less formal setting with the students.”

What especially impressed Wells was how so many runners and fans came out the same day Penguins hockey legend Mario Lemieux was hosting his annual 6.6K race in downtown Pittsburgh. That race, called 6.6 because Lemieux wore No. 66, draws thousands.

Hindman expects a bigger turnout next year for the CCAC 5K.

“It raised money for clubs, organizations and The Miracle League,” she says. “I think this will continue to grow. We’ve never before had any programming on a Sunday on campus,” Hindman adds.

This article was originally published in Community Health for Community College of Allegheny County.