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Open Letter to Those Looking for a Spring Marathon or Half-Marathon: Come Experience Pittsburgh with Me!

by Jeff Paladina
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Dear Undecided Runner Searching for a Spring Race:
 
I know what you are going through. Maybe you ran some 5Ks and 10Ks in
2019, and you are ready for a longer challenge in the spring of 2020. Maybe you
missed qualifying for Boston by a little (or in my case, a lot), and you are looking
for a new spring marathon to run. You are googling, looking at marathon
calendars, reading race reviews, and asking for recommendations on Facebook,
only to find that many of the most popular races are in the fall.
 
Well, you are in luck. Let me tell you about the city I love and everything it
has to offer: the most incredible, welcoming people that live there, the race
organization, the cheering crowds, the picturesque course that crosses three rivers,
the bands, and the excitement that all comes together on the first Sunday in May.
You see, Pittsburgh is no ordinary city, and the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh
Marathon is not just another race. Let me tell you what you will experience if you
join me and all of my fellow runners at the start line on May 3.

Pittsburgh is made up of diverse cultural neighborhoods. Each neighborhood
has its own truly unique flavor. We will experience 14 of these neighborhoods
during the marathon (including downtown Pittsburgh, the South Side, and
Bloomfield). Pittsburghers take great pride in their communities. These
neighborhoods each organize cheer squads – and on race day they all try to outdo
each other to show that they are the most supportive. In true Pittsburgh style, there
are bands and neighborhood parties all along the course.

Thousands of people line the course race day. But Pittsburghers are not just
ordinary people. They are so invested in their city and in Pittsburgh’s signature
race weekend that they truly want you to succeed. These Pittsburghers genuinely
care about your race. In the professional sports world, it has been said that when an
opposing team plays a Pittsburgh team, they play against the whole city. It is also
true that when you run a Pittsburgh race, you have the whole city running with
you. You may be from another city or another state, but on this one day – you are
one of them. You are a Pittsburgher. You are someone who came to their town to
chase your dream of running 13.1 or 26.2. And Pittsburghers want to help you live
out your dream in their city. They are Pittsburgh proud. Sure, other cities have
pride and other cities cheer runners – but Pittsburgh’s welcoming spirit is
unparalleled. This is the city of Mister Rogers – Pittsburghers want to be a good
neighbor.

Want something to do when you are in town? Sail on the Gateway Clipper
Fleet for a sightseeing or dinner cruise. Ride the incline to Mt. Washington and
dine at a restaurant with views overlooking the city. Visit the Pittsburgh Zoo. See a
show in Pittsburgh’s cultural district. Pittsburgh has everything that all the big
cities have, but typically at more affordable prices.

On a tight budget? Pittsburgh is a city with blue-collar roots, and they’ve got
you. There are affordable hotels downtown within walking distance to the
start/finish. If you really want to save money, you can find even cheaper lodging
just outside the city, drive in early race morning, and park all day at any of the
Pittsburgh Parking Authority garages . Try getting a parking deal like that at other
cities’ races! You can also get around downtown and the North Shore by taking the
light rail system (“the T”) for free! The race registration fees, even a few months
out from the race, are in line with rates that other races charge the first day
registration opens. There is no lottery to register and no qualifying time to worry
about. All you need to do to qualify to race Pittsburgh is be a tough Runner of
Steel!

Do you want to run 26.2, but also want to run with a friend who is running
the half-marathon? You are in luck! In Pittsburgh, we all start together at the same
starting line, and run together for the first 11 miles before the full and half separate.
We share the same finish line – at Point State Park, where three mighty rivers
meet, and the sun always seems to shine on the runners’ medals. At the Pittsburgh
finish line, even the Eat-n-Park sugar cookies are wearing a smile.

During race weekend, there is an event for everyone – a kids marathon that
gets over 6,000 kids (spectating the kids’ race is an event in itself), a 5K, a pet
walk, and the marathon, half-marathon, and 5-person marathon relay. Pittsburgh
has one of the largest and best race expos you will find anywhere.

So, you have incredible crowd support, in an amazing city, at an affordable
price! What is the hold-up? You’ve heard there are some hills on the course?
Embrace the challenge. You did not train for 16 weeks and for all those miles
because you are a runner who is afraid to run uphill, right? Let the city and the
crowds energize you and carry you up those hills. And the good thing about the
course is that the last part of the race is downhill! Yinz got this!

On the first Sunday in May 2020, at 7 AM, I will be doing the same thing I
have done every year since the race restarted in 2009. I’ll be at the start line of the
DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. I want you to see what I have
experienced each of the past 11 years. Pittsburgh never disappoints! Come
experience Pittsburgh with me!

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