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Clean Air Dash and Festival: Success!

Updated: Feb 22

by Sam Thomas, Athletes United for Healthy Air Coordinator

On Saturday October 19th, 2013 GASP held the first Clean Air Dash and Festival on Pittsburgh’s South Side Riverfront Trail. This community festival and 5K was made possible thanks to the Heinz Endowment’s Breathe Project and the many sponsors, community partners, athletes, and volunteers who came together to make the event a success. The event highlighted GASP’s Athletes United for Healthy Air campaign (AU). AU educates athletes about air quality issues in the Pittsburgh region, gives them tools to minimize their exposure, and empowers them to champion for healthy air.

In the wee early hours of the morning, GASP employees filtered into the South Side Riverfront Park under a full moon’s glow. Despite the chill in the air, and the lingering darkness, race volunteers arrived next and were greeted with hot coffee, bagels, and gratitude. They were soon deployed to hang banners, set barriers, and prepare race shirts and bibs for runners.

The sponsors, community partners, and food vendors came next. Soon the runners began showing up, and the park was transformed into a sea of athletes adorned in kelly green Clean Air Dash shirts. Many athletes rode their bikes to the event, and the bike valet provided by Friends of the Riverfront and Bike Pittsburgh quickly filled up.

GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini led the event off with some words about GASP and Athletes United for Healthy Air. Rachel also spoke a few words in remembrance of Michelle Madoff, GASP co-founder and ex-City Councilwoman who passed away on October 12, 2013. Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department, and City Councilman Bruce Kraus also spoke. 

Next, the Yoga Hive led runners in a yoga stretch. Wattley, Duquesne Light’s mascot tried keep up, but it’s awful tough for a light bulb to touch its toes.

Dr. Hacker then led kids and their parents on an educational fun run, courtesy of Mom’s Clean Air Force. Children walked or ran along the gorgeous South Side Riverfront Trail, learned about air quality, and received a T-shirt and a medal.

At 10 AM it was time for the race to start. Councilman Kraus manned the starter’s pistol, and with a bang more than 300 athletes were off!

The runners ranged from first-time racers to experienced 5K veterans. The top female finisher ran a stellar time of 21:11, and the top male finisher blew in at a blistering 16:45.

Also in the race were a group of young students from Clairton and teams from Clean Air Dash sponsors such as Copies at Carson, G-Tech Strategies, and pair Networks.

After the last runners crossed the finish line the fun really began. Festival attendees roamed the park and met with local businesses and nonprofits. Activities at the festival included the Venture Outdoors climbing wall, football drills with a member of the Pittsburgh Passion, pumpkin painting with Women for a Healthy Environment, and views of air quality monitoring from CMU’s mobile air quality lab. The Steer and Wheel, The Vegan Goddess, and The Muscle Maker Grill served delicious food. The Yoga Hive took the stage again and led the crowd in more yoga.

GASP and Athletes United for Healthy Air thanks all the volunteers, runners, and sponsors who made this fantastic event a success. GASP also thanks Councilman Bruce Kraus and Dr. Karen Hacker for their roles in the event.

Stay involved! Find some more event pictures here. Keep connected with us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest on air quality and other environmental issues, and start training for next year’s race!

Please click here to see all of the sponsors that made this possible.

Editor's Note: Photos courtesy of The Breathe Project and Joshua Franzos Photography

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