Pretty Good Race

Posted September 4, 1998 at 8:00 am No Comments

Every September, thousands of Pittsburgh fitness enthusiasts flock to Point State Park for an annual event known as the Great Race. A 5K cross-country race, it winds though the streets and hills of Pittsburgh to the finish line in neighboring Frick Park.

A event that is slightly less well-known (but certainly every bit as enjoyable) is the Pretty Good Race, an annual competition organized and sponsored by the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science. Also 5 kilometers in distance, this race traverses the Schenley Park trail system, starting and finishing at the base of the Panther Hollow Bridge. Registration for this race, however, is open only to students, faculty, and staff of the School of Computer Science.

Today Ethan and I took part in the 18th Annual Pretty Good Race. The approximately 30 competitors were divided into teams such as Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, and Computer Vision. After warming up, stretching, and pinning our numbers to our shirts, we stepped to the line. The whistle blew and the race was off.

monzyrun.jpg (63207 bytes)

Trailblazing through the wilds
of Schenley Park.

According to the race official, we were to continue running along the main trail until we came to the turnaround point. At the turnaround point we would see a marker cone and another race official flagging us to turn around. After about a mile of running, I had fallen behind the lead pack, but remained ahead of the pack behind me, so I was running alone. Soon I saw the lead pack returning in the opposite direction. I assumed that I would hit the turnaround point soon, but after several more minutes I still hadn’t seen it. “Oh well,” I thought, “I suppose that I’m just further behind than I had imagined.” But another half-mile passed and there was still no sign of a turnaround marker or another race official. “This is getting strange,” I began to think, “but I can’t really turn around yet until I get to the marker or I would be cheating.”

Another mile later, I knew that I must have missed the turnaround. It was frustrating because I was feeling good and expecting a nice time. After a while I somehow ended up in front of Phipps conservatory and found my way back to the finish line.

Ethan finished second in the “undergraduate” category with a quite respectable time of 22:30. I fared a bit differently, arriving at the finish line about 15 minutes after everyone else and from the wrong direction. Nevertheless, I had fun, even though I ended up running more of an 9K than a 5K. I sure felt silly when I arrived and the official announced my time of 38:40. I almost shouted something like “I’m not that slow! Really! I just got lost!” Anyway, there’s always next year.

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