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A Family-Friendly Experience with the Pittsburgh Marathon

by Becky Willis
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It’s only natural that when you run to be a role model for the kids in your life that they’ll be just as excited for the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events as you are. The weekend is full of opportunities to get the whole family involved — whether that is racing together or cheering each other on. There are so memories to be made, and who better to share them with than your biggest fans?!
 
Saturday is Family Day
While I am a believer that the entire weekend is family-friendly, Saturday is a day dedicated to the families. There are four events that are sure to spark interest from everyone in the family: 
  • UPMC Health Plan / UPMC Sports Medicine Pittsburgh 5K Run
  • Chick-fil-A Pittsburgh Kids Marathon
  • Sheetz Pittsburgh Toddler Trot
  • Blue Buffalo Pittsburgh Pet Walk
Many people use the 5K Run as a shake-out run for the next day’s longer distances, but this is also a day where many people are hitting the pavement to achieve their first big running goal! This is a fun race with a beautiful course – I wish my first 5K had been this one – and perfect for running with your kids. 
 
Perhaps your child has been working toward running the Kids Marathon – whether that is running their first one-mile race or completing months of training (and 26.1 miles) with the Kids of Steel program at their school – and it is time to celebrate them! Kids and their parents can run this one-mile fun run together. My oldest two ran it last year and made it a goal to beat my husband across the finish line, which they accomplished!
 
While the 5K Run and Kids Marathon are geared to the older kids, don’t rule out fun for the toddlers. The Toddler Trot will allow the youngest Runners of Steel to have a moment to shine when they trot through Point State Park. What a fun way to get your little ones moving! 
 
Pets are part of the family, too. That is why there is also a one-mile Pet Walk (also held in Point State Park) that benefits Humane Animal Rescue. Bring your pets and make them part of the weekend! 
 
Have I mentioned the Finish Live Festival in Point State Park features several family-friendly activities that you can engage in after any of these events? Don’t be too quick to leave downtown after your race! 
 
The Family That Runs Together
Beyond the events on Saturday, you might also consider running Sunday’s events as a family. The FedEx Ground Pittsburgh Marathon Relay is perfect for siblings or cousins. My husband and I have done the Relay a few times, and there’s something special about being the person to give your spouse their finisher’s medal at an exchange zone. 
 
If you’re not intimidated by running with a partner, take on the full or half together! I know plenty of siblings, parent/kid pairs, and spouses who have done this and it sounds like a great bonding experience. 
 
Not Running on Sunday? Join the Crowd!
Having family and friends as your own cheering section is one more perk of the Pittsburgh Marathon. For those who are not running, the crowd is a great place to be. 
 
Be sure to have the kids make a fun sign to motivate the runners or pick up a cow bell when you visit the Expo and RING IT LOUD! Cheer on not just “your runner” but all the runners! My family will be out there doing the same. 
 
My husband recommends using the T to get to different points to watch the race and using bridges as watch spots so the kiddos can rest their feet because they’ll feel like they’ve ran a full marathon if they follow you along the course! 
 
And then once you’ve crossed the finish line, have a plan to meet your family in the reunion area and then take in the Finish Line Festival. Some of my fellow runners then like to grab brunch with their families afterwards or take in a Pittsburgh Pirates game to top off the ‘Burgh experience together. 
 
Experience Pittsburgh – Beyond the Race Courses
No matter how you’re involved in the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events, there is so much to experience in Pittsburgh. I’ll be spending hours shopping (and making wish lists) at the Expo, but also like to use this time to fall deeper in love with the city I call home. 
 
There are attractions close to all of the events – my favorites to keep you off your feet for race weekend include the Gateway Clipper sight-seeing cruise, Just Ducky Tours, a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game, or a theater experience with Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Perhaps you’ll use it as a staycation and book a room for the weekend to be close to the course and enjoy it all. 
 
With all of these things to do during race weekend, you’re sure to make many family memories. Be sure to factor in some time to rest, but most of all, enjoy the time as you MOVE together! 

Visit the ‘Burgh Blog each month for more training tips and tricks from Becky Willis and the other 2019 Official Bloggers! You can also follow along as Becky trains for the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon on her blogs Mrs. Greg Willis and 'Lil Burghers

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