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Identity & Community

Thousands To Tackle Pittsburgh's 'Great Race'

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City of Pittsburgh

The Great Race will sprint through lower Pittsburgh for its 38th year on Sunday, drawing thousands of runners and walkers from western Pennsylvania and abroad.  

In 1977, then-Mayor and former director of Citiparks Richard Caliguiri saw a need for a citywide outdoor event, said Race Director and Citiparks Special Events Manager Brian Katze. Caliguiri founded the 10K portion, and successors have since added a 5K run and fitness walk.

According to Katze, The Great Race is now the largest 10K in Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the nation. Race organizers are expecting about 16,500 participants, which would break last year’s record of 16,000. Most who attend are from the region, Katze said, but participants include international visitors and residents of almost all 50 states as well.

“Three European countries, even, coming in this year," he said.

No major changes to the race have been made; However, with an estimated 11,000 people at the 10K start-line, organizers have taken steps to reduce congestion. There will be pacers at the 10K start line from the Steel City Road-Runners Club. Based on an estimated finish time, runners will be divided into groups led by these pacers to minimize the necessity for faster runners to overtake slower runners.  

For non-participants, Katze said there are plenty of other chances to take part. The city needs about 300 volunteers to pass out water, help out at the finish line and hand out souvenirs. To pitch in, sign up online. Residents can also add to the spirit of the race by cheering on runners and walkers as they make their way through the course, he said.

Katze encourages people to think about participating even if they are not an avid runner; it's meant to be a chance for everyone to get out and enjoy the city.

“It’s a reason to come out with your neighbors, with your friends, with your family to get exercise in on race morning, get a great t-shirt and experience out of it. And do this without the pressures of competitive racing,” he said.

The race begins in Frick Park and will finish Downtown along the Boulevard of the Allies near Point State Park. The 5K route begins halfway through the course.