Professor has a front row seat to a Great Race

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Not everyone might relish the prospect of 10,000 strangers showing up in front of their house on a quiet weekend morning, but Joseph Sabino Mistick and wife Catherine were all smiles Sunday as they watched the noisy crowd gather in front of their Squirrel Hill home.

"We look forward to this every year," Mr. Mistick said.

"I think it is the coolest thing in the world," his wife added.

Thousands participate in Great Race

More than 15,000 poeple participated in the 36th annual Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race. (Video by Nate Guidry; 9/29/2013)

The Squirrel Hill couple was referring to the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race, 10K version, which happens to start directly in front of the Mistick driveway on Beechwood Boulevard.

The 10,000 were those who'd registered for a chance to spend their Sunday morning running, jogging and maybe occasionally walking from Frick Park to Point State Park.

For the Misticks, it's like a giant party unfolding before their eyes, an arm's length away. And they don't have to worry about the cleanup afterward.

"It's just a wonderful thing," said Mr. Mistick, a law professor at Duquesne University. "You see all these heads bobbing up and down and it's really a sight to see. Everyone's in a good mood. Friends are shouting up at you. It's just a festive time."

Every year, the Misticks put together a small, pre-race brunch for family, friends and neighbors, some of whom eat and then head down the driveway to join the other racers.

"They normally put out a buffet of temptation that we try desperately to resist, but ultimately fail," said Michael Comber of Mt. Lebanon, one of this year's guests and a race participant.

"It's not like we're trying to win this thing," added fellow racer Colleen Budosh, also of Mt. Lebanon. Also stopping by before his pre-race announcement duties was city Councilman Corey O'Connor, who chairs council's parks committee.

The race holds special meaning for Mr. Mistick, who had known Mr. Caligiuri since the 1970s, when he coordinated volunteer activities for Mr. Caliguiri's unsuccessful mayoral run, and later served under Mr. Caliguiri's administration. After Mr. Caliguiri's death in 1988, he was also a top aide for Mayor Sophie Masloff.

"For those of us who were part of his administration and who loved him, we are reminded of those days. Those were happy days for us and those were good days for the city."

Having a front row seat to one of the city's biggest yearly events does carry a price as city crews are there early setting up a review stand and fencing. "We don't sleep from 5 o'clock on," Mrs. Mistick said with a smile.

By 7, workers are testing the sound system and shortly after that, a music soundtrack sends a steady bass and drum beat thumping at the Misticks' front door.

More than an hour before the 9:30 start, racers are walking up Beechwood past the Mistick home to their starting positions, an uninterrupted line of runners, from adolescents to seniors, in all shapes and shoe sizes.

By the time the starting gun goes off, the sea of people seems to stretch beyond the horizon.

For all the buildup, though, once the race starts the procession of runners and joggers passes by within 15 minutes and, 20 minutes later, city crews already are taking down the signs and viewing stands and breaking down the fencing.

Despite the disruption to their REM sleep, the Misticks have nothing but praise for the event and the city workers who make it happen. "As soon as possible, your driveway is opened back up and the roads are opened back up," he said. "The city workers just do an amazing job."

By noon or so, she said, "it's like there wasn't even an event here today."


Steve Twedt: or 412-263-1963. First Published September 30, 2013 4:15 AM


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