Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Your Greatest Race Pittsburgh's 'Fun Run' Has Exploded in Popularity from Its Humble Beginnings

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Your Greatest Race Pittsburgh's 'Fun Run' Has Exploded in Popularity from Its Humble Beginnings

Article excerpt

September means two things in Pittsburgh. The kids are (finally!) back in school, and the countdown begins for the Richard S. Caliguiri Great Race.

Or make that races: The popular sporting event, which this year celebrates its 38th anniversary, features two distances for runners.

There's a 10K (6.2-mile) race that begins in Squirrel Hill's Frick Park and winds its way down Forbes and Fifth avenues toward its finish at Point State Park. There's also a 5K (3.1-mile) event that starts in Oakland and follows the same route as the 10K to the finish.

Established as a "fun run" by the late Mayor Richard S. Caliguiri, the Great Race has exploded in popularity from its rather humble beginnings in 1977. That year, 1,100 runners pinned on race bibs. Now capped at a combined 16,500 participants, it's one of the largest multi-race events in the country.

Running in general has become more popular in Pittsburgh, says race director Brian Katze, but the Great Race holds a special place in athletes' hearts because it's such a community-oriented event. Thousands of spectators turn out to cheer on runners, and "It's a great way to see the city," he says. "You run through five college campuses and countless city neighborhoods."

It's an especially good race for casual and first-time racers because neither event is overly competitive, Mr. Katze adds. (Although you will see some stellar performances - last year 23- year-old Jim Spisak of Johnstown won the 10K in 28:43, a 4:37/mile pace.) Also, the distances are manageable for people just getting into the sport.

Nationally, the 5K continues to be America's favorite race, accounting for 44 percent of all finishes in 2014. In Pittsburgh, the longer race has the edge - last year's 10K was the largest in the state and 17th largest in the U.S.

"It's the flagship race, what we started with," says Mr. Katze, who is in his ninth year with the event. "It's what Pittsburghers see the race as and what we're nationally ranked for." This year's race on Sept. 27, is capped at 11,000 for the 10K event and 5,500 for the 5K run/fitness walk. …

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