Time to reflect on an eventful weekend in Pittsburgh. The marathon was a huge success this year as the event continues to grow. A bit on the warm side but nice not to have to deal with rain. It’s been amazing to watch how many runners from all over the country continue to come into our city for the weekend. The weekend expo has expanded to a “candy store” atmosphere very common with large marathons around the globe. It’s first class and there was everything imaginable to purchase for the passionate endurance athlete.
If your considering adding a tougher road marathon to you list consider Pittsburgh. Many of my friends that have visited Pittsburgh for the marathon always leave with one theme – “Man the hills are tough”. It’s not a smoky steel town any more. It surprises me to hear so many national media (especially when our Pittsburgh Steelers are playing on national TV – that’s it’s tough “Steel Town”) continue to refer to our city as Steel City. The Steel industry has been gone for over 30 years and Pittsburgh has expanded dramatically with several renaissances into a vibrant cultural city. The reputation of our marathon is coming around and was clear this year when we had athletes from 49 states competing in the event.
When the marathon began in Pittsburgh over 25 years ago the race was considered a bit difficult because of one climb and rolling terrain. It’s not a flat, fast course. The crowds were very sparse in various neighborhoods as the interest from Pittsburgh citizens waned. In many cases the media portrayed a negative light on the marathon when we had a few thousand runners and the streets were closed which caused congestion, etc. It was not a race that would attract athletes from all over the US like today. There is a reason of the explosive growth of this event after many years without having the race because of lack of sponsors. The current Race Management team led by Patrice Matamoros had been spectacular building the momentum throughout the country. She has made the event first- class. Also, the Pittsburgh community and government have embraced the race and the weekend events. It has become a large scale event every year in May with all the various activities all weekend. The event sells out and has moved to large marathon status in the US now and consider coming next May, 2013 to check out the city.
Standing on the starting line, I wondered how many other long time marathoner’s remembered the small crowds and just a thousand runners competing compared to the 25,000 we had signed up for this years event. Interestingly, I got several chills just listening to the race announcer and scanning the massive crowd inside the starting corral’s before the race. Just reflecting on how far the event has come in my hometown! Check out Pittsburgh Marathon in 2013 and I will see you at the starting line.