PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For the past 25 years he’s been the organizer, in charge of putting on one of America’s premiere running events — the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race.

But earlier this year, Mike Radley retired as city park director, and this year — for the first time — he’ll be just one of the 15,500 people running in the race.

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“Many, many years working with the great staff to put on the race, to organize the race and have it go well,” said Radley. “Now, the reward of participating with the running community; I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great thing.”

Radley’s worked the race from its inception 35 years ago when a few hundred runners snaked through the city’s streets from Frick Park to Point State Park.

As race director, he’s overseen its growth by the thousands, turning it into the citywide celebration it is today — for runners and spectators alike.

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“They ring their cowbells at the finish line; they hold their signs up for their dads, their mothers, their brothers, their neighbors,” Radley said. “Just the look on the runners’ faces when they cross the finish line because they’ve accomplished what they set out to do, and I hope to be among them on Sunday.”

And there’s just no denying the specialness of the event — even after it was canceled in 2003 due to a city budget crisis — it came roaring back. Radley calls it a reflection of the city’s resiliency.

“That’s that Pittsburgh ethic,” he said. “Everybody digs down when things get tough and pulls together and I think there’s been an excellent evolution of the event.”

But this year, Radley will be happy to just be a face in the crowd.

After 25 years of hosting the event, he’ll finally be able to enjoy the party.

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