There are more public staircases in Pittsburgh than anywhere else in the country, and this weekend over 100 people are expected to utilize them for the annual Fineview Step-a-thon.
Held on the first Saturday of October each year, the step-a-thon brings attention to the Fineview neighborhood, and the towering hills and stairways challenge walkers, runners and hikers as they make their way through the trails and residential streets the Fineview residents are so familiar with.
Mel Gallagher, the president of the Fineview Citizen Council and the newly appointed program manager for the Fineview and Brightwood neighborhoods for the Northside Leadership Conference, highlights the importance of the step-a-thon for the Fineview neighborhood.
“It is a way to showcase our ‘fine’ views and our ‘fine’ neighborhood,” Gallagher says.
During the race participants will climb the 371 steps of Rising Main, the fourth highest stairway in the city. They will also encounter the streetcar line that runs through Fineview, which once ran unique streetcars built to withstand the steep 12 percent grade of the hilly neighborhood.
The 2.5 or 5 mile walk/run begins behind Allegheny General Hospital on the hillside neighborhood formerly known as Television Hill. After climbing over 1,600 steps-the equivalent to a 17-story building, participants will finish at the Catoma Street Overlook with a great view of the city.
Completing the intense course wins participants a glass coaster with a photo from Fineview. Other prizes are reserved for the fastest Fineview resident and the top three fastest times. The Starlight Bluegrass Band will return this year for post-race entertainment.
Gallagher, also the event coordinator and manager for this year’s step-a-thon, recognizes the rise in participant numbers over the past 17 years the event has been running.
“The event for many years drew only 25 to 35 participants… for the past three years we’ve attracted 95 to 100, more than tripling the participation.”
The event is organized by the Fineview Citizen Council, who also sponsors the races along with the funds from participant fees. Some sponsors provide the funding to pay for the t-shirts, tote bags and awards while others donate their goods and services as prizes.
This includes Pamela’s diner, who gives a free short stack of pancakes to every participant. Other sponsors for the race include PNC Bank, Allegheny General Hospital, WPXI, the Steelers and more.
“This is the only fundraiser that Fineview does and it brings new people to our neighborhood that would not have otherwise come,” Gallagher says.
The Fineview Citizen Council is included in other Fineview projects such as the Catoma Street Overlook, and construction of new single-family homes.
Funds raised from the event will be used for Fineview Neighborhood greening, cleaning and beautification.
The race will be held at 8:30 am, this Saturday. To learn more about the step-a-thon and Fineview, visit the race website at www.stepathon.org.