Thousands Of Runners To Take Part In 40th Great Race

Sep 22, 2017

An estimated 10,000 runners will converge on Pittsburgh Sunday for the city's popular Great Race which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

The 6.2-mile course begins at Frick Park and makes its way through Squirrel Hill, Oakland and Uptown before ending in Point State Park.

To celebrate this year's milestone anniversary, organizers are giving runners T-shirts bearing the artwork of famous Pittsburgh pop artist Burton Morris.

"He's done a lot of famous works throughout the country, so it's a collectors item, not just based on the fact that it's a unique race shirt, but also based on the fact that it was designed by Morris," said Brian Katze, race director and special events manager for the City of Pittsburgh.

This will also be the 40th race for a group of men who call themselves the "Perfect Great Racers." The group of 21 runners have participated in every race so far. 

"That group includes former Mayor Tom Murphy and also the winner of the very first Great Race in 1977 Carl Hatfield, so not only did Mr. Hatfield win the very first Great Race, he's participated in every one since then," Katze said. 

The Great Race is non-competitive and, according to Katze, that might be the reason why it is one of the most popular foot races in the nation.

"There's really no pressure," he said. "The only person you're competing with is yourself and your time and what you might be aiming for even if it's just the goal of finishing."

2003 was the only year the Great Race was cancelled due to fiscal problems in the city. Proceeds from the event support Amyloidosis research, the disease that claimed the life of Mayor Richard Caliguiri who started the Great Race in 1977.