"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Friday, March 12, 2010

Favorite Defunct Races #3

Frick Park Cross Country

Frick Park, in Pittsburgh, is one of my favorite parks for running, and it just so happened when I finally had the time and vicinity to train there routinely when I moved to the city in 2004, there was a healthy series of races managed by the West Penn Track Club and sponsored by Saucony.

When they're not fielding teams of mercenaries who they happen to pick up the day before the Great Race, West Penn is a decent enough organization. I think one person exerts too much influence in the competition division, but I digress.

The rank-and-file members of the club are quick to volunteer to help hold a race, Janice Boyko does a great job organizing and Dave Sobal puts together safe and high quality courses.
Sadly, I was only able to make it to one of the three races in the summer cross country series because of conflicting road races. Each meet offered three different races:

2k- out and back on the Tranquil Trail
4k- out on the Traquil Trail, along the lawn bowling courts on Reynolds, right on the Horseshoe Trail, right on the Kensington Trail, left on the Homewood Trail and back on the Tranquil Trail.
8k- The 4k course, then up the Falls Ravine Trail, around the exercise circuit twice and back down Falls Ravine.
If they wished to double, 4k runners could continue on the 8k course.

I ran the 4k in July and broke the course record by one second (13:02). It still stands, but only because Saucony dropped its sponsorship after that summer and West Penn ceased the race.

The club still holds a fall race, the Pittsylvania XC Challenge, though it too has waned. There was talk in 2008 that West Penn would drop it, too, and I made a bid for the Hounds to keep it running, but once Janice took the offer to the board, it was swiftly quashed by someone in charge. The club later cancelled its Gold Medal Alumni 5k scheduled for the summer and replaced the Pittsylvania race. The new race raises money for scholarships dedicated to two camp alumni who died in car accidents in the late 90s. A noble cause, but the race now goes against the behemoth Spirit of Pittsburgh Half Marathon, and its growth will be somewhat limited as a result.

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