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Friday, May 30, 2014

Race Preview: Pittsburgh Citiparks Community Footraces

Summer is here, if not in the scientific sense - 21 days remain until the Summer Solstice - it has arrived in the sense that pools have opened, schools have closed, and it's officially okay to wear your whites and your flip-flops.  Summer, at least in Pittsburgh, holds a treasure trove of 5K and 10K races, including the Pittsburgh Citiparks Community Footrace Series.

The Community Footrace Series includes:
  • The Greenfield Glide 5K - June 1
  • The Riverview Park 5K  - June 6
  • The Brookline Breeze 5K and 1 Mile - August 9
  • Run Around the Square 5K and 1.5 Mile - August 23
  • Richard S. Caliguiri Great Race 10K and 5K - September 28

Panther Hollow Lake adjacent to the Greenfield Glide Course - While runners don't get to come all the way down to the lake, this also means that they don't have to climb the hill back up!

The Greenfield Glide takes runners through Schenley Park, one of four large, urban parks within the Pittsburgh city limits.  A hilly course, the glide winds through the park's wooded trails.  The course doesn't appear to dip quite down to my favorite part of the park, the lake in lower Panther Hollow, but runners should be able to catch some glimpses of the lake, streams, and hopefully some wildlife along the trail.

The Greenfield Glide starts at 9:30 this Sunday morning, June 1.  Pre-registration is closed, but registration is available the morning of the race for $25 (runners) or $15 (walkers).

The Riverview Park 5K is unique among organized races in that it takes place in the evening, starting at 7:00 pm.  While most races start in the morning, requiring participants to wake early and get warmer as the race goes on, the sun will be setting gently during the duration of the Riverview Park 5K.  Another cool fact about this race is that runners get to race around an observatory.  This is also a trail race through another one of Pittsburgh's parks, and the Allegheny Observatory sits atop a hill as a favorite landmark along the course.  According to the Observatory's website, tours are held Friday evenings from 8-10 pm, allowing the possibility of some truly unique post-race entertainment.

The Riverview Park 5K Run and Fitness walk starts at 7:00 pm Friday, June 6.  Online and mail-in registration are open until June 3 and day-of registration opens at 5:00 pm at the park.  All registration fees are $15.

The Allegheny Observatory high on the hill above Riverview Park.  Photo from the Observatory website at
The Brookline Breeze is my "home race" among those in this series, held in my neck of Pittsburgh's woods.  In actuality, the Brookline Breeze has very little to do with woods and holds the distinction of being the most urban race among the quartet of Citiparks' events.  The Breeze does start in a park, but it is a small community park, and roughly 3 of the race's 3.1 miles are run on the city streets.  The race is another hilly one.  Last year, the hills saw the added challenge of roadwork and potholes along the course, but this year's race should be the "breeze" runners are promised, as Brookline has recently completed its construction projects.  The Brookline Breeze also includes a 1-mile Mini-Breeze, geared towards children and families, as well as a 1-mile Pet Walk.

The Brookline Breeze events take place the morning of August 1st, with the Mini-Breeze starting at 8:35 am, the Pet Walk at 8:38 am, and the 5K at 9:00 am.  Online registration is open until August 6, and fees range from $9 - $15 depending on the event.

Participants gather in Brookline Memorial Park prior to the 2013 race.

The Run Around the Square is the race I know the least about going into it.  I don't run much out in the far East End of the city, but the course map shows that the race splits its terrain between the flat, city streets of the Regent Square neighborhood and the mildly hilly trails of Frick Park.  Frick Park is the largest of Pittsburgh's city parks, and this course gives runners just a glimpse of the lush woods and plentiful trails.  The Run around the Square also boasts a 1.5 mile Fun Run/Walk and Pet Walk, which appears to be contained to the Regent Square neighborhood roads.

The Run Around the Square is on August 23 - the Fun Run/Walk starts at 8:15 am and the 5K starts at 9:00 am.  Registration is open online through August 22.  Fees are $25 for the 5K and the 1.5 Mile Pet Walk and $20 for the 1.5 Mile without a canine companion.

Chilling with the Duck after the 2013 Richard S. Caliguiri Great Race.  Duck not included in 2014 edition.

The Community Footrace Series concludes with the Richard S. Caliguiri Great Race, the largest 10K race in the state of Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the country.  The Great Race also holds a 5K run/walk on the same morning.  The Great Race is a point-to-point race, with shuttles transporting runners to a start line either 10K from downtown, in the Squirrel Hill corner of Frick Park, or 5K from downtown, at the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland.  The Great Race is a mostly flat and downhill course, running through parks and business districts, past museums and universities, and ending downtown in Pittsburgh's beautiful State Park at Point State Park.

The Great Race sells out FAST each year!  Registration is currently still open online for $33.  Once the race is capped, the race allows bib transfers, and, as the race date nears, runners always seem to have bibs available on Craigslist and Facebook.

All of the Pittsburgh Citiparks races are friendly towards both runners and walkers, novices and those striving to earn a medal or award.  Best of all, they are a great way to enjoy some of Pittsburgh's most beautiful parks and neighborhoods!  Hope to see you all there!

1 comment:

  1. Run Around the Square was my 1st 5K & so much fun! There is a big hill once you get into Frick Park to add some challenge but then it's all downhill from there. Beer & champagne is served at mile 1, and there's beer at the end.