Carnegie 5K founder commits to April 26 race
Retirement and a couple hundred miles cannot keep Jeffrey Harbin from the 5K fundraiser he helped start in 2007.
“Barring any emergencies, I will be there,” Harbin, now of North Carolina, said. “And I'm excited for it.”
Harbin, the former longtime Carnegie police chief, began organizing the race in 2007 as a fundraiser for the Carnegie Volunteer Fire & Rescue Bureau. He organized the event each year until his retirement last summer.
“I think it went beyond that,” he said. “It went beyond to something the community has embraced as a nice way to welcome the summer.”
One change he will see during the April 26 race is a new division — a wheelchair division. It is an idea brought up by Councilwoman Carol Ann Covi, who uses a motorized scooter, Councilman Phil Boyd said.
“When Carol presented the idea, we thought, ‘Why wouldn't we?'” said Boyd, a race organizer and volunteer firefighter. “Why shouldn't it be open and available to everyone who is up to the challenge? It's a community event.”
He said that while no participants have signed up for the wheelchair category yet, he hopes some will.
“We want to learn from it and be able to promote it better next year,” he said. “This is a learning opportunity.
Boyd said registration in general has been off to a sluggish start so far this year, but he thinks it will pick up as the weather takes a turn for the better.
“We think it's lagging because of this horrible winter we've endured,” he said.
Participation has grown each year since the first race seven years ago. The first year brought in just under $6,100 for the fire department. The 2013 race raised $15,825.
Boyd said corporate sponsorships are up, which means the number of prizes for the raffle are up.
To avoid the confusion that came last year with giving each participant a raffle ticket and drawing a ticket for each prize, each participant's bib number automatically will be entered into each drawing.
“Last year, it took longer to give out prizes than the race lasted,” Boyd said. “But this should make it easier.”
Harbin said he is looking forward to running the race without the stress of organizing the event.
“It's a hell of a lot of pressure off of me now,” he said. “I always ran the race, but I had so many things going through my mind even up through race time.”
Boyd said notes and emails Harbin left made it easy for him and the organizing committee to pick up where Harbin left off.
“We're still making up a lot of things as we're going, though,” he said. “But we're also having great success.”
Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.