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Hundreds of volunteers cheer on Pittsburgh Great Race runners

By Jessica Federkeil, Point Park News Service:

Hundreds of volunteers turned out to the Pittsburgh Great Race this past Sunday. Photo by Jessica Federkeil.
Hundreds of volunteers turned out to the Pittsburgh Great Race this past Sunday. Photo by Jessica Federkeil.

The Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race featured more than 14,000 runners — and would not have been possible without the help of numerous volunteers, organizers said. Volunteer coordinator Lindsey Van der Veer, 32, of the Strip District, talked about the effort it takes to make the Great Race happen.

Q: How many volunteers participated?

A: We had between 350-400 volunteers participate in Great Race Week. We saw the help of volunteers starting with the Junior Great Race, then the Great Race Expo, and of course on race day.

Q: How many colleges participated as volunteers?

College students from all surrounding Pittsburgh universities showed up to support and help the runners. Photo by Jessica Federkeil.
College students from many nearby universities showed up to support and help the runners. Photo by Jessica Federkeil.

A: We had Point Park University and Slippery Rock University, which had such a large number of volunteers that they ran their own water stations. Then, we saw students from Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, the University of Pittsburgh and Seton Hill University volunteer on their own. Organizations like Dollar Bank also provided a lot of our volunteers.

Q: What is the importance of volunteers with an event this size? 

A: We couldn’t have the race without the help of the volunteers. There is only so much we could do by ourselves. The volunteers really help us run the event. They help with everything from registration to the break down of the race.

Q: What are specific tasks the volunteers take on for race day? 

Photo by Jessica Federkeil.
Volunteers at the Pittsburgh Great Race not only provided an extra set of hands, but also helped encourage runners to finish the race. Photo by Jessica Federkeil.

A: Well before the race they help with registration, they hand out t-shirts and dispense the runner’s bibs. During the race they are keeping the runners hydrated with the water stations. At the finish line they hand out oranges (and) bananas to the runners. Then afterwards they help break down the race.

Q: Anything you would like to add?

A: Having people come out to volunteer means a lot to us, but it also mean’s a lot to the runners. With the water stations, you have a personal connection. There is a person to actually hand the runners water and cheer them on opposed to them having to grab it off a table. That connection is what is really special. The runners really appreciate that.

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