PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Officials say 40,000 athletes are expected to be in town for the 10th anniversary of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon.
“This year, we’ve got folks from as far away as Australia, Brazil, Germany and the Czech Republic,” says Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive.
In honor of this year’s 10th anniversary, there are some special events planned.
“We’re going to paint the town red, white and blue,” says Patrice Matamoros, the race’s director. “We are hosting the U.S. National Championship for the Half Marathon. We will have men and women from all over the country that are the best of the best, competing in Pittsburgh… We [also] have 30 international and national runners who are coming to participate in the marathon.”
Some do it for exercise. Others participate in memory of a loved one or for a good cause. This year alone, more than 3,000 charity runners have raised $1.5 million.
The events are designed so that athletes of all abilities can participate.
On Saturday, there will be a 5K, Toddler Trot, Kids Marathon and the annual Pet Walk.
On Sunday, the Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Marathon Relay begin at 7:05 a.m.
The course weaves its way through some of Pittsburgh’s iconic neighborhoods.
“The neighborhoods have been a really huge part of everything we do,” says Matamoros. “There are 13 neighborhoods that people will run through on Sunday. It’s the most comprehensive tour of Pittsburgh that someone can get.”
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People who have done the race say they can’t believe the support from all the volunteers and spectators who line the course.
“We actually even had one story in which a woman was so tired, she took off her shoes and was walking barefoot on the course for the marathon,” says Matamoros. “Her feet had had it with these shoes. A woman, who was spectating, ran over to her and asked what was wrong. She told the woman, and the woman said, ‘What size are you?’ ‘Size nine,’ [she said.] The woman said, ‘Me too!’ and she ran upstairs, got shoes and gave them to the runner.”
Before the runners hit the pavement, the Race Expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center was buzzing Friday night.
Ryan and Gaelyn Hastings are from Massachusetts and have run in the race before.
“Running over the bridges and seeing the rivers and seeing the inclines, it’s just really aesthetic,” said Gaelyn Hastings. “And the views, it’s really inspiring.”
Ryan Hastings said: “We love Pittsburgh. We come to Pittsburgh every year, usually for sporting events, but we’re so drawn to the city that we chose the marathon a couple years ago, and now we’re back.”
Even with the roads that make up the race route closed on Sunday, with 40,000 runners and a quarter million spectators, the folks at the Diamond Market in Market Square expect a big crowd.
“We’re actually coming in early for everyone,” said Jenna McCorry from the Diamond Market. “I mean you just ran 26.2 miles, you’re going to need a beverage.”
But they expect Saturday to busy, too. After all: “We have the Kentucky Derby, along with the Pens,” said McCorry. “Even though they’re away, we’re still going to get a crowd from that and Cinco de Mayo.”