By JOEY GOMEZ

A former Olympic-class runner who participated at last weekend’s 10K race said the competition was “extraordinary” and Edinburg should be commended for supporting all the runners.

Former 2008 Olympian Andrew Lemoncello applauds Edinburg for its sense of community all throughout. Lemoncello actually spoke before the race upon meeting with students at Edinburg North High School who besieged the runner for autographs.

“You always heard that this place has a real sense of community and that really helps when you come down to a race where everyone is behind you,” Lemoncello said. “When you can come out and just meet everyone, that is really nice to have because at a lot of those races we go to there really isn’t personal contact like that.”

Lemoncello, who hails from Scotland, participated at last summer’s Olympic games in Beijing for Great Britain running the 3000-meter Steeplechase.

Lemoncello has won the Scottish National Championship 16 times, and is a member the gold winning European Cross Country team. He also came third at the 2004 British University Cross Country Championships, finished eighth at the World Mountain Running Championships 2004 and was the British University Champion in the 5000 m and 10000 m events.

“From the first moment I got in contact with David (Chavana) he was very welcoming, and when I got into town they were telling me where to go eat and relax. It’s just nice.”

Lemoncello placed fourth at Edinburg’s 10K with a time of 29:23. More than 2,000 runners participated in the event and about 1,500 finished the race which comprised not only former olympians, but past 10K champions, and a huge complement of Kenyan and Ethiopian runners.

The 10K Run/Walk has been featured in over 25,000 printed publications, 100 radio slots, 75 television PSA’s and highlighted on more than 30 television programs. A total of 37,782 people have finished the 10K in the last 26 years, according to Chavana.

“This is unique because with the big marathons you get a big demand, but as far as 10k races you don’t usually get that demand so it’s quite extraordinary this many people participate. It’s pretty high on the list and that’s why some of the big runners come down here. It makes the race hard for everyone but that’s what we’re in it for.”