History of the Pretty Good Race:
by Phil Miller (from the CS 25th Anniversary Symposium, 1990)
The Pretty Good Race was first run in 1981. Phil Hayes
was in charge of the Immigration Course, did a bit of running, and car
pooled with me. He had run in a 10K race as part of the AAAI
conference during the summer and thought an IC Computer Science race
was a good idea. I liked the idea too. The name, linked as it was to
Pittsburgh's "Great Race", came as a wisecrack from Bruce Lucas.
Richard Korf easily won what was then a 3 miler. I say he won it
easily because I was second and I lost contact going up the very first
hill. One clear memory is John McDermott commenting as I crossed the
finish like that I had done well for an older person. He meant it
too. Elaine Kant won the women's division. The T-shirt design was by
Phil Waddler. Mark Stehlik was in charge of the start/finish line.
The second year was much like the first, but more competitive.
Peter Highnam was taking his running seriously and "ran away" with the
race. Elaine won the women's division again. I made my first
appearance as Karel the Robot. Nico Habermann and Al Spector ran and
the whole thing was a lot of fun. Mark Stehlik was in charge of the
John Pane won the next year, his first of six wins! Things get
murky fast (though my memory isn't bad for an older person). Lori
Zuti, an undergrad with the Introductory Programming group ran a good
time in winning this year or perhaps the next. A sig-legged robot
graced the T-shirts and the PGR remained a lot of laughs. Mark
Stehlik was in charge of start/finish line.
At about this time, Nahid Capell came to the PGR and she came to
race! She won the women's division several times, posting very fast
times. John Pane continued to win. Faculty and students from ECE,
Math, Psychology, and Art participated. Rob Guzikowski ran one year,
setting the 5K race record. Rob was awesome, but John came within
seconds of taking the record last year. Lawrence Butcher ran at least
once. He did. He got into shape and ran the PGR. Bernd Brugge has
turned in some very good performances in recent years, but he is
getting older too. The park map T-shirt design that we use to this
day was penned by Harry Holland for the 6th PGR. Mark Stehlik was in
charge of the start/finish line every one of these years.
The 9th PGR marked the sixth time John Pane won the race.
I don't remember too much because I was carried off the course not
more than 400 meters from the start; felled by haywire hamstring.
The rest was pain and depression.
It is funny but when I see old grad students, people from
the late 70s and early 80s, they frequently bring up the PGR.
It is one more thing that is unusual and nice about CS.
I hope you can come: participate, help, or watch. This will be
the 10th, 25th Anniversary, Pretty Good Race. They have all been
The race begins, as always, under Panther Hollow Bridge. This time it
will begin at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 23rd, , as a part
of the 25th Anniversary. And, of course, as always, Mark Stehlik will
be in charge of the start/finish line.