Honors Program volunteers for The Great Race

Photo by Chloe Jakiela
Freshman cinema production major and honors student volunteer Sarah Campbell hands out cups of water to Great Race runners as they near the end of the race.

Written By Nicole Pampena, Copy Editor

When runners of the 39th annual Richard S. Caliguiri Great Race entered Point Park’s campus with only half of a mile to go, the sun was on their backs and Honors Program students were ready to greet and encourage them.

The students stood ready with a water cup in one hand and a cowbell in the other. Their presence was hard to miss, and especially beneficial to participants like Krystopher Baklarz, a freshman sports, arts and entertainment management (SAEM) major and member of the Honors Program who ran in the 10K event.

“I was looking for [them] the entire race,” Baklarz said, referring to the familiar faces supporting him.

The Great Race is a major volunteering event for the Honors Program every year, dominating Boulevard of the Allies with seven tables at the water station.

Students arrived at 7 a.m. and worked in shifts to hand out water cups and collect those thrown to the side, said Crissy Garcia, a freshman intelligence and national security major and honors volunteer.

About a dozen students volunteered to show their support for more than 16,000 participating runners.

Water stop coordinator and Point Park alum Clint Burton paid a visit to the water station minutes before the front-runners for the 5K would pass by. Burton, a graduate of the class of ‘83 with a B.S. in computer science, has held this position for the past eight Great Races.

Farther down the street outside of Village Park, more honors volunteers and members of the Pink Feet committee sold bagels to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. All proceeds will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Tyler Dague, graduate assistant for the Honors Program, commented on their overall presence at the race.

“We just want to get out and support everyone early in the morning,” Dague said. “Pink Feet thought this would be a great way to raise money.”

Baklarz recalled the struggles of the Great Race that take place mid-race, which spectators typically do not see.

“The highway was the hardest part,” Baklarz said, describing how the heat of the pavement could be felt through his shoes. “It dragged on the longest. Everyone clustered there and at the beginning.”

He decided to focus on the runners, offering encouragement during that stretch of the race to overcome challenges he experienced in a past 10K run.

“It’s awkward because you could consider me a runner, but I do smaller distances,” Baklarz said.

His first walk/run race of this distance, Panerathon, took place on Aug. 21 in Youngstown, Ohio, right outside of his hometown of Boardman. Initially, he planned on walking the race, until a friend encouraged him to run the remainder, allowing him to finish with a time of one hour and 11 minutes.

The goal of Sunday was to beat that time, which Baklarz accomplished by crossing the finish line in an hour and three minutes. He said it took a few minutes at the start of the race for him to actually begin running due to such a high number of participants.

The event concluded with the thousands of participants gathering in Point State Park to celebrate their accomplishment and enjoy the day. An awards ceremony took place shortly after to acknowledge the winners and conduct the raffle drawing.

Back on the quiet streets of campus, honors students cleaned up and left no trace, with the exception of an impact on the city of Pittsburgh and one of its annual traditions.