40,000 Competitors Will Hit the Pavement This Marathon Weekend
On Sunday 30,000 runners will take the streets of Pittsburgh for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon, Fed Ex Ground Marathon Relay, while even more people line the course to cheer them on.
Runners to watch this year include 2014 women’s champion American Clara Santucci, who is aiming to break her personal best time of 2:32:25. Kenyan James Kirwa took the men’s title in 2012 and 2013, but was unable to run last year because of a hamstring injury.
But Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon CEO Patrice Matamoros said there are some relative newcomers to the Pittsburgh race who could give past champions a run for their money this year.
“We have an American named Tyler McCandless who is phenomenal. He’s a Penn State graduate and is getting his Ph.D. in meteorology, and he’s one of our top American male marathoners,” Matamoros said. “We’re looking to see what Allison Bolton will do. It’s going to be a debut marathon for her, and her training partner just won the Boston Marathon.”
Pittsburgh is one of several cities participating in the American Development Program, which aims to give American runners a leg up in marathons by providing travel assistance, complementary registration and a stipend.
“Americans whose hope and dream is to go to the Olympics one day are really very poorly supported at this point, so we’ve developed a program in Pittsburgh in which we say ‘Come to Pittsburgh, get your start, we’ll support you through your career,’” Matamoros said.
Still, most of the people running this Sunday’s marathon are not doing it to break records or qualify for the Olympics, but rather for the love of the sport and to challenge themselves. For those folks, the parties along the race course can be great motivators.
The course winds through 13 Pittsburgh neighborhoods, beginning and ending downtown. Matamoros said each neighborhood is throwing a party with music, entertainment and food.
“Homewood always does a really great party,” Matamoros said. “A lot of people come out and cheer for the runners … and they’re going to do a big barbecue that morning.”
The North Side is planning a Monopoly themed party, while the West End is calling their section the “Miracle Mile.” Also, look for the Elvis impersonator in Bloomfield.
The festivities actually begin on Friday, with the GNC Live Well Expo. On Saturday is the UPMC Health Plan/UPMC Sports Medicine Pittsburgh 5K Run, the Toyota of Pittsburgh Kids Marathon, the Toddler Trot and the Purina Pro Plan Pet Walk.
Street closures for the main events on Sunday will begin at approximately 5:30 a.m. and continue until approximately 2:30 p.m.