Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon family of events growing at fast pace

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Patrice Matamoros, executive director of the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon Inc., stood on a North Side trail along the Allegheny River this morning.

She was there to remind runners about four spooky-themed races happening later this month at North Park. And with her to spread the word was a man dressed as a zombie.

For the running nonprofit organization, it was an appropriate metaphor.

In 2009, after a five-year hiatus, the Pittsburgh Marathon was brought back to life, and since then the organization has added to its signature 26.2-mile event with the races in North Park, a 1-mile race Downtown, and for the first time next month, a 10-mile race through Pittsburgh.

The separate races make up what Ms. Matamoros called "a family of events" organized by Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, an organization based on the North Side with 10 full-time and three part-time employees.

The head of the family, however, remains the marathon.

"All the other races, and all the other events that we've been able to offer, have been as a result of the Pittsburgh Marathon," Ms. Matamoros said.

For a handful of years, lack of funding and sponsorships meant there was no marathon, but in 2009 it returned, with Dick's Sporting Goods as the title sponsor and more than 10,000 runners. The marathon's organizers decided to design more running events so that marathon participants had additional reasons to stay in shape during the offseason.

The first addition was the North Park race, Oct. 26, when the Oxford Athletic Club Freaky 5K will mark its fifth year and the Massage Envy presents Haunted Hill 10K will mark its third year. A walk for pets and a one-mile fun run for kids also will be held that day.

Two years ago, they started the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile, a 1-mile race through Downtown. In August, that race had about 1,200 participants for its second year.

The marathon organizers have also created Steel City Road Runners, a network started two years ago to provide about 1,000 members with a training program, coaches and mentors to reach their running goals.

This year, the newest race being put on by the Pittsburgh Marathon organizers is the EQT Pittsburgh 10-miler. More than 4,000 runners are registered to run in the inaugural race Nov. 3.

Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, scheduled for May 4 next year, remains the biggest event, with 30,000 runners expected to participate in the full marathon, the half-marathon, relays or the 5K. More than 7,000 runners have signed up since registration opened Oct. 1.

As for how the marathon went from nonexistence to spurring the existence of a year-round calendar of events, Ms. Matamoros credited a resurgence in running, along with a renaissance of the city and the creation of more running trails. All of it contributed, she said, to create "a recipe for success."

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Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/ First Published October 15, 2013 12:24 PM


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