Run Around The Square (or RATS) is a 5K run that goes around Regent Square in Pittsburgh, PA. This race takes place in August and is a neighborhood, friendly event. The race starts in Regent Square, go through some streets in Swissvale, PA and finishes in Frick Park. This is only 5K (or 3.1 miles if you prefer).I did not want to sign up for this event, I consider that paying for something I can do every day without support is useless. Do not misunderstand me, I totally understand that many people are excited about these races and I will encourage – and cheer – anybody to sign up. But as I run more than 10 miles per day, this is something I used to so I do not really need a special event to do it. However, my partner in crime convince me, arguing that it was a friendly event, a good reason to hang out with friends in the area rather than a competitive race. In order to demonstrate it, she signed me up. I cannot refused.
The start is at 9:00. In order to keep my sanity, I did 5 miles before in Frick Park and join the starting line. First of all, I was amazed by the number of runners around (the square). The event is very popular and for good reasons (see later). During the race, you pass several groups that play music, which is very cool, especially for such a short distance. Once you get into the Park, there is a champagne and beer stop sponsored by Dunnings! There are also two additional water stops along the course.
The finish is in Frick park where you can hang out with friends. The place is very nice and you can cheer people that completed the race and have hot dogs and beers provided by D’s. Other sponsors provide interesting perks (Park Pizza and Cream for a slice of pizza, the east-end food co-op for bananas, True Runner that promoted the Hoka Clifton).
So, is it worth it? Definitively. I am clearly not a short distance guy, averaging 10 miles a day. This is not a race but a reason to meet friends and have some time to have beers and hot dogs in the morning. It engages people that are not used to run to participate in an event that might help them to start (my former roommate that hates running completed it and seems to like it!) and can connect non-runners with more trained people.
The take away? Sometime, you just have to listen to the others, have some fun and forget your daily mileage and take the opportunity to have some good time. And this can also be an opportunity to have a personal record: this year, three fellows Steel City Road Runners placed in their age group! Congratulations to them, my own Personal Record (PR) at this rate has more to do with the max numbers of beers I was able to get before 10am. Way to go!