Tuesday, March 3, 1998

Pittsburgh Marathon (Pennsylvania)

May 3, 1998
Marathon 7, State #3 (Age 29)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Once referred to as "hell with the lid off" because its billowy smoke stacks produced a perpetual dusk, Pittsburgh bears little resemblance to that description today, and the City of Pittsburgh Marathon showcases much of the city to prove it.  Starting in shiny downtown with its numerous architectural landmarks, the race crosses the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers before the striking finish at the three rivers' nexus.  On the way, runners encounter Pittsburgh's diversity, from the Golden Triangle, to working-class Lawrenceville, to well-to-do Shadyside.  Community support of the marathon has grown tremendously, so that now, with marathons organizers' assistance, each community holds a unique, marathon-day festival to commemorate the race and support the runners.  The Pittsburgh Marathon also appeals to runners looking to improve their time, and the race will use the ChapionChip timing system.  In 1998, many of the United State' elite runners will be on hand as Pittsburgh hosts the Track and Field Men's National Marathon Championship for the second consecutive year.  [Craythorn and Hanna]

2001 was the 2nd year for this event.  The Marathon only drew about 300 pre-registered runners, so for the size of the race it was adequately managed.  I stopped by a local running shop and heard there were complaints last year of runners getting lost on the course because of lack of volunteers at the turns.  I had no problems navigating.

The Pittsburgh Marathon's near lop course crosses the city's famous three rivers cutting through 12 distinct and diverse neighborhoods.  The convenient layout places the start and finish within a half mile of each other.  The race starts in front of the City-County Building in the midst of downtown's gleaming high-rises.  The course, completely closed to traffic, heads along Grant Street (passing the well-known USX tower), then onto Liberty Avenue for the first mile.  A slight upgrade faces the runners at mile 2 as they pass through the Strip District, a historic waterfront area of fresh produce, vegetables, and seafood.  Running into the working-class community of Lawrenceville, the course passes the neighborhood's tribute to WWI, the Doughboy statue, before returning to the Strip District for miles 3 and 4.  The runners cross the Allegheny River by way of the 16th Street Bridge, passing the fabled Heinz Factory at mile 5.  Upon turning off the bridge, runners go through the flat North Side for miles 6 and 7, passing the famous Mexican War streets.  A slight downgrade greets runners as they prepare to leave the North Side.  Runners encounter a spectacular view of the Golden Triangle as they cross the Ohio River via the West End Bridge.  As they turn off the bridge, runners have a slight downgrade for .25 miles until mile 8 on Carson Street.  On this street, runners go through Pittsburgh's South side for miles 8 to 11, passing historic Station Square at mile 9.  They encounter boisterous spectators at the array of antique shops, bookstores, coffee houses, neighborhood bars, and restaurants along Carson Street between miles 10 and 11.  Leaving the South Side, runners cross the last of the city's three rivers, the Monongahela, by way of the Birmingham Bridge.  At the end of the bridge, runners face their one significant hill, climbing about 200 feet over .75 miles along Forbes Avenue leading to Oakland.  At the top of the climb, they find a flat stretch for miles 12 to 13 as they pass the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the university.  The runners travel on relatively flat Fifth Avenue entering unique Shadyside with its huge Victorian mansions, art galleries, and upscale restaurants and shops.  The course passes by Mellon Park turning onto Penn Avenue.  Relatively flat form miles 15 to 19, the course travels through the neighborhoods of Point Breeze, historic Homewood/Brusthon, and East Liberty.  Facing some sight rolling hills, runners pass through Highland Park form miles 19 and 22. At mile 22, runners receive an overwhelming greeting from the citizens of Bloomfield, who traditionally have a weekend-long series of events culminating with the race.  The large, predominantly Italian, community fills the streets to encourage runners on their final stretch.  The course returns to Lawrenceville and the Strip District for miles 23 to 25 with a gradual downgrade.  At mile 25, runners enter the Golden Triangle via Penn Avenue, passing the historic Heinz Hall and the Benedum Center.  The turn onto Liberty Avenue leads to the finish at scenic Point State Park at the confluence of Pittsburgh's three rivers.   [Craythorn and Hanna]

Every runner receives a long sleeve marathon T-shirt, and finishers receive medallions and official result certificates (sent in mid-July).  All registrants also receive souvenir prom/results booklets in August.  The top three runners in each age group are sent award plaques.  Elite runners compete for approximately $100,000 in prize money.  In 1998 we also received a small nylon athletic bag.

The Westin William Penn Hotel, 530 William Penn Place (800-228-3000), serves as the headquarters hotel ($100).  The other downtown hotel that offers discounts to runners is the Ramada Plaza Suites at $85/95 (800-225-5858).   [Craythorn and Hanna]

On Friday and Saturday of marathon weekend, a Marathon and Fitness Expo is held in conjunction with packet pick-up and late registration.  The expo takes place at the PPG Wintergraden on Stanwix Street between Third and Fourth Avenue, a five-minute walk from the Westin William Penn Hotel, the headquarters hotel.  Although you may retrieve your packet on race morning, there is no race-day registration.  The race hosts a pasta party the evening before the marathon for about $10.  After the marathon, attend the post-race party at the Westin William Penn Hotel, staring at 1:00 p.m. The awards ceremony begins at 2:00 p.m.  All race registrants are eligible for the prize raffle at the post-race party, including two complimentary airline tickets to Hawaii.   [Craythorn and Hanna]

In addition to the marathon, there is a 10k and half marathon all starting approximately 8:00am.  Packet pick up is Saturday between Noon and 5pm at the Ramada and although no race day registration, packet pickup is available.

While in Pittsburgh, catch a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game at Three Rivers Stadium.  Regular attractions include the view from the Mount Washington up the Duquesne Incline; the Andy Warhol Museum; the Carnegie Art Museum and Natural History Collection; the hands-on Carnegie Science Center; the Children's Museum; the Pittsburgh Zoo; Station Square; and the National Aviary.   [Craythorn and Hanna]


                            UPMC Health System
                        City of Pittsburgh Marathon
                            Sunday, May 3, 1998

sex 321
DIV 53
NAME  Brian Schweinhagen                    
TOWN    Archbold           
ST COUNTRY      Ohio / United States   
AG s 29 M
SPLIT   1:41
20MILE  1:40:38
NetTime 3:26:15
FinishTm  3:26:23
 PACE  7:53