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Pittsburgh Marathon in talks to take over Richard S. Caliguiri Great Race

| Friday, May 19, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Runners in the Great Race head down Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Runners fill Beechwood Boulevard in Squirrel Hill at the start of The Great Race on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016.

Organizers of the Pittsburgh Marathon are in the running to take over the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race, officials said Friday.

Pittsburgh in March issued a public request for proposals seeking companies to replace the city Parks and Recreation Department as organizer of the Great Race, held each fall in memory of late Mayor Richard Caliguiri. The management change is unrelated to a city investigation of parks expenditures, including Great Race funds, said Katie O'Malley, spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto.

The city has selected a company and is talking with nonprofit Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc., but has yet to award the contract, O'Malley and a marathon official said.

“We are in discussion with the city about the Great Race, but nothing has been finalized,” said marathon spokeswoman Kelsey Emch, noting that the marathon has managed the Great Race Expo since 2014. The Expo, held the day before the race, includes free product sampling, health screenings, demonstrations and discounted sporting goods sales, according to its website.

O'Malley said she could not identify the city's selection until the management contract is finalized. It is subject to City Council approval and review by the Equal Opportunity Review Commission, she said.

Peduto last week said a parks employee notified his office about a potential problem with the Special Parks Programs Trust Fund, which collects money to put into the Great Race and currently totals $658,220. He said the Office of Municipal Investigations is reviewing the matter.

O'Malley said the investigation centers on expenditures and whether they were properly authorized. She said the investigation will not impact this year's race, scheduled for Sept. 24.

The city generates race funds through sponsorships and registration fees.

The parks department spent $343,326 from the fund in 2016. At least 40 percent of that paid for expenses other than the Great Race , according to invoices.

The expenses included paying for a clown to appear at park events, repairs to the Westwood swimming pool and rental of a tree stump grinder and backhoe for Frick Park. The trust fund also helped pay for city bicentennial events, a Black History Month celebration and a victory parade for the Penguins after the team won the Stanley Cup Championship in 2016.

OMI also is reviewing a Huntington Bank account held by South Side-based City Source Associates that contained Great Race funds. The account was closed in April and a balance of $422,223 was transferred to the special parks trust fund.

O'Malley cited the OMI investigation in declining to discuss the account and why it was held by City Source, a city property maintenance contractor. City Source did not return a call.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, or @bobbauder. Staff Writer Chris Togneri contributed.

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