Changes accentuate Brentwood Firecracker 5K landscape this year
The running season is upon us, meaning it's time to start developing plans for your summer schedule.
The Brentwood Firecracker 5K Run is held annually on July 4 on the Brentwood holiday parade route on Brownsville Road.
The holiday event has developed into an elite competition in its 30 years of existence. It attracts local and regional participants, and people travel from all parts of the United States to participate.
It is one of the biggest 5K races in Western Pennsylvania if not the state. There were more than 2,200 participants last year, which set a record for registrations.
“We had our biggest field ever,” said Maureen Cunningham, who with Kira Kellner serves as co-race director. “They included elite runners, families and a lot of first-timers.”
Kellner noted, “We had runners representing (at least) 27 states, including Hawaii and Alaska. We also had a runner who placed in the men's division from Northern Italy.”
This year's contest will kick off the festive Fourth of July holiday weekend.
“Since the race is on a Friday this year, we anticipate a record number of weekend visitors in Brentwood, and an even higher amount of runners,” Kellner said. “We are capping this year's race at 2,500; if we hit that number pre-race weekend, we may not accept ‘day of' registration. This is for the safety of our runners.
“We don't want to have to turn anyone away, so we encourage registering early.”
Kellner, who is a newlywed, and Cunningham are working with a group of dedicated individuals again this year.
Jeanne Berk, Steve Evans, Mary Lou Nees, Alicia Reece and Rich Wright are serving as 5K race-committee volunteers.
“We want to get the word out about the capping,” Kellner said, “as well as some other big changes we are making.”
• New timing system and 5K race structure.
“We will be offering disposable race chips to help eliminate the need to check in and drop off the chips post-race,” Kellner said. “(Participants) will be able to keep them after they run, as a memento.
“Additionally, due to an overwhelming demand, we have added a start and finish mat, so the timing will be more exact.”
• New early bird registration rate(s).
The registration fee is $18 until May 31. From June 1 through the June 29-30 packet pickup, the fee will be $20.
If there is race day registration, the fee will increase to $25.
“We have gone away with the ‘family' pricing, and instead have restructured the entry fees to encourage early, online registration,” Kellner said.
• Junior runners.
“We want to encourage the younger ones to join us as well, so we are offering a discounted rate of $10 to anyone age 11 and under,” Kellner said.
The fee for junior runners will increase to $15 on race day (space permitting).
• Race course improvements.
“We are having the race course re-certified, and are sprucing up some of the signage on the course as well,” Kellner said. “We hope it will be fun for everyone.”
Registration forms will be available in early May at Brentwood Library, located at 3501 Brownsville Road. Race packets will be available June 29-30 at the library.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.