Former director of Great Race is set to run

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

Mike Radley would routinely walk into his office with a traditional suit and tie, handle issues to further improve Citiparks, have a meeting to discuss new trends and tackle "a lengthy to-do list."

But Radley is trading away all of his administrative work for a running cap.

"Because that's what I wear when I run," said Radley, who retired last year as the director of the Great Race.

So the man who coordinated and ran the operations of the Great Race for the past 25 years is, well, actually running the race this year.

"To coordinate the race was an honor and a reward to experience it as an administrator," he said. "But to actually experience it as a participant, it's a cool thing."

Radley became the director of the Great Race in 1987, but said he had eight to nine years of experience from working as a recreation leader and manager of community facility from 1978-85.

"The race itself represents a great piece of fabric for Pittsburgh," he said. "People come far and wide to enjoy the race and to have a part in the leadership the race presents."

Sewn into that fabric lie humble beginnings where Radley acknowledged two major differences from the event's past until now.

In the inaugural Great Race that featured 1,000 runners in 1977, popsicle sticks and frisbees were used to time racers.

"Without a doubt technology and the operations of the events itself has changed the outlook of the race," he said.

The Great Race now utilizes innovative timing and scoring known as the Chrono-Track B-Tag system, in which the bib number for each participant acts as a timing chip.

"It's pretty amazing what technology has done for the race," he said. "It has allowed the race to grow to the size it is today."

The Great Race has a record number of 15,500 participants this year.

Radley noted the change in demographics as a significant part in the race's growth and success.

Last year, 56 percent of the participants who ran the 10K were women. That number has risen to 65 percent this year.

Radley participated in past races like the Pittsburgh Marathon in 1996 and the Gatorade-Steelers 5K, and said it's rewarding to join the runners in their efforts.

"The runners and walkers are the meat and potatoes of the event," he said. "It's not an event without them."

As Radley prepares for his first time running the race beyond the desk, he said one of the encouraging factors factor is the message fellow runners are sending.

"I don't know if they realize how much of an example they are to their friends, family and neighbors," Radley said. "To see people, who have been running in the race for years, are now introducing their sons, daughters and nephews to now say they are running with me today, it's truly gratifying. You don't have to be a great athlete to run in this race, but you are a leader and a great example by doing so. I'm really looking forward to the race."


Kelton Brooks:


Create a free PG account.
Already have an account?