The Allegheny County Parks Foundation wants you to get to know the nine parks that it maintains. Its latest fundraising and awareness effort is a new road-and-trail race series called the Allegheny 9.
The fourth race was held April 22 in Boyce Park.
“It’s actually one of the largest park systems in the country,” says the foundation’s communications and marketing manager, Carole Smith. “We started this series to get runners to come to the parks and get outside the box.”
The series began in October with a 5K run at White Oak Park, in McKeesport, and will end in November at Round Hill Park, in Elizabeth. The foundation aids the county’s parks by raising funds and public awareness for the system. Funds go toward improvements like ecological assessments that determine methods for park conservation and sustainability.
“A really strong goal of ours has been to increase the visibility of the Allegheny Parks system, as well as the visibility of our own organization, because our mission is to raise money for the parks, but the people don’t know we exist, and that’s difficult,” says executive director Caren Glotfelty.
Runners in the Allegheny 9 receive a shirt and medal for each race they participate in, and are entered to win a bicycle package from Pro Bike & Run.
“We had a pretty large runner constituency in our region, and we thought, ‘Well, you know, maybe we could appeal to that particular segment of the park-user population, and give them some different places to run than they typically ran and expose them to how nice these other parks are,’” Glotfelty says. She says a majority of runners tend to use North and South parks for training, but not any of the other seven.
“A lot of the same people have come out for the races, but, really, what it’s about is getting more people to come to the parks,” says Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who gave the starting signal at the first three Allegheny 9 races. “We do have an awful lot of parks in Allegheny County, and there’s a little bit for everybody to do at them.”
The next leg of the Allegheny 9 is at 9 a.m. Sun., June 4, at Harrison Hills Park. A full schedule of races can be found at theallegheny9.com.