The Fineview Step Challenge, pka: Fineview Step-a-thon, takes place in the same-named North Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Appropriately named for it’s “fine view” of the city. Puns aside, those steps always gets the last laugh. This was my second year running this race.

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Registration and Cost: It was only $20 for this race (plus a couple bucks for online registration fees). All proceeds benefit the Fineview Citizen’s Council and their efforts to beautify the Fineview neighborhood.

Packet Pick-up: This is a two-parter — you get a timing chip for your shoe before the race and a goodie bag after the race.

Bag Check: No bag check

Weather: PERFECT CHILL and my first run this year in some of my cold weather layers.

Course: Described as an “urban trail challenge,” it starts line at North Avenue and Howard Street and the finish line ends at the Catoma Overlook. This course doesn’t hesitate to remind me about how it enjoys kicking my ass! Though part of it is because it’s really not marked well enough. Sure enough, at a point of a “merging in the woods,’ there were three different roads to take. Well, if there’s no marking, you go straight, right? Although, neither direction really went straight. So a few times we had to back-track or loop back around, which isn’t terrible because it adds to the adventure quality. But seriously.

It felt mostly the same as last year — we were routed differently around the baseball fields and I remember it going more through woods… but maybe that’s why I got lost last year. There is no way that I would be able to replicate this course.

Looking up and looking down Rising Main!

Only halfway up Rising Main!

Fans and Experience: I really missed the families on Rising Main who gave high fives and cheers from their porch while you climb the steps and they’re just out drinking coffee and reading the paper. Given the state of the homes in this area and surrounding property debris (and piles of mail on the porch), it looks largely abandoned now. And it’s really depressing to see.

Otherwise, the course is mostly empty of fans.

Finish Line: The finish line game of this race is strong — and always sneaks up on me! It’s a fast finish downhill. And that view!

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Medals and Swag: No medals for this one unless you’re the top overall male and female. At the finish line, there is a bag for all those who pre-registered that included a t-shirt, coupon for free Pamela’s pancakes, and a little glass photo coaster (which I thought was a magnet, and it crashed off my fridge and right into my foot!).

Bonus: Shuttle rides back to the start line, since this one ends up on the Overlook.

Random Bullshit: There weren’t any maps this year, and the lack of communication before and after the race leaves me a little miffed. Certainly the fun outweighs the bullshit, but other smaller community races have done much better in this regard.

After Party: No hot chocolate this year as part of post-race goodies but there was hot coffee, which was much-welcome for my cold mile-ish walk back home.

OVERALL
The Great: The definitive highlight of this race is the views of the city. I live on the north side and rarely get to see from this vantage point.
The Good: I can walk to the start line!
The Bad: Loose pitbull on the walk back from the finish line. Yeahhhhhhh.
The Ugly: Someone (non-runner, I assume) being taken down on the course. We ran into an incident midway as a volunteer (volunteers?) was subduing someone on the road. I’m assuming the police were called, but that’s some scary shit for an adventure race.

Once again, this race reinvigorated a desire to try out some trail racing. Aside from the 370+ steps you climb (up and down!), this course also includes some sharp road inclines and declines. I also enjoy running the pedestrian bridge over 279. The many different elements of this course will bring me back again.

Results: Beat last year’s time by 36 seconds! 1:09:00 even for me.
27th overall of 69 participants

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