PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – We’re nearly three months away from the running of the Pittsburgh Marathon.

Since race organizers recently announced changes to the course, there’s been a big increase in registrations.

The Pittsburgh marathon course just got flatter.

“It will be interesting to see what we get in terms of times,” Race Director Patrice Matamoros said.

That change means racers could turn in some really fast times in the half marathon. Construction — particularly on the Sister Bridges and a Pittsburgh Pirates homestand — means they had to make some changes.

“We can’t paralyze the city by taking all three bridges, so we needed to stay away from the bridges. We knew it was several years, so we wanted to develop something that could be longstanding,” Matamoros said.

The new half marathon course will run past PNC Park, Heinz Field PPG Paints Arena, but those views are not what attract world class runners.

“It really doesn’t make a difference. Prize money makes a huge difference. Also, the course makes a huge difference in terms of how the race treats them, but I think overall aesthetically and scenically, it is going to be a much improved course,” Matamoros said.

When the marathon announced the changes, reaction was overwhelmingly positive.

“Phenomenal. We actually had a Facebook post that announced a new course that is flatter and faster and we had over 113,000 people spread it organically among people on Facebook,” Matamoros said.

While the elite runners may not pay much attention to the scenery, the marathon is confident the new course will only boost return engagements.

“We are seeing multiple day stays in hotel rooms, and we are seeing people coming into Pittsburgh for the first time and 97 percent of people say they will come back as a tourist. They were lured here because of the marathon. Now, they are coming back,” Matamoros said.

Marathon weekend is May 6-7.

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