PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For the last 4 decades, the last Sunday of September has meant one thing to this group of runners.
You’ll find them on Beechwood Boulevard near Frick Park before they take off for The Point.
“This is actually my 43rd Great Race,” Ken Balkey of Churchill said.
“I believe it is 43rd,” Marty Klanchar of State College said.
They are the Great Race perfect runners. In all, 21 have run every City of Pittsburgh Great Race dating back to the 70s.
Klanchar comes back to the city every year to keep his streak going.
“I don’t think we thought about running all of them until maybe the 14th, 15th year then someone came kept track of everybody,” Dick Monheim of Edgewood said.
“Now I said I’ve got to come back, Balkey said before starting his run.
This year was going to be no different for them. With plans to keep the streak alive.
“You don’t want to be the next one off the list,” Monheim said.
2020 struck again, so the event was forced to change. The COVID-19 pandemic caused race organizers to not allow thousands of people to all run together. They created a virtual race for the runners and walkers.
“We would really miss it if we couldn’t do it,” Klanchar said.
The perfect runners made sure to sign up. Some ran on their own, others gathered Sunday morning to continue the streak.
“We’re just here because this is what we’ve been doing for the last  years,” Balkey said. “Coming out and doing this event.”
It may not have had the pomp and circumstance of past years and may not be their record times, but it didn’t matter for the runners.
“Now at our age, I think the thing is let’s not try to slow down too much,” Klanchar said with a laugh.
As one group they went around Point State Park to finish where they started the tradition more than 40 years ago.
“Oh it was great,” Balkey said after crossing the finish line.
“It’s a very special group. A very special group,” Klanchar said.
The runners hope next year they are able to return to the normal event with thousands of other runners and walkers.