Pittsburgh ready for 30,000 to take to the streets

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Pittsburgh is ready for a marathon.

That was the message this morning, when race officials gathered Downtown at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to mark the start of the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend, which will include shorter running events Saturday and the marathon and half-marathon Sunday.

"We have planned extensively. We have prepared extensively. It's going to be a great event," said race director Patrice Matamoros.

The Pittsburgh Marathon starts and ends Downtown, winding its way over 26.2 miles and through 13 city neighborhoods. This year, the marathon saw a record registration, with more than 30,000 people running or walking in events this weekend, and of that about 26,000 participating in the bigger Sunday races.

The race will draw participants from all 50 states and from 15 different countries. There will also be 37 people running in Pittsburgh who didn't get the chance to finish the April 15 Boston Marathon, which was halted when two bombs exploded near the finish, killing three people and injuring more than 260.

Dick's Sporting Goods reached out to Boston, volunteering to fly in runners who hadn't been able to complete their race last month and offering to outfit them and put them up in hotels. They will also be recognized at the start of the race Sunday.

"They were excited to come in, to finish the race, and also to see Pittsburgh," said Dave Natale, Dick's director of sports marketing and events.

In the weeks since the Boston attack, marathon organizers in cities across the world took another look at their security plans. Pittsburgh city and marathon officials did the same, and have assured race participants and spectators that the city is prepared.

"It's been hectic, and we've had tons of meetings," Ms. Matamoros said today. "It hasn't been overwhelming because I think we already had a good plan in place."

The medical team working the marathon will be about 500-people strong, said Ron Roth, medical director for the race. He advised runners to dress in layers, since the temperature will rise from 47 degrees at the start of the race to the high 60s.

Once the marathon news conference was completed, race participants streamed into the convention center to pick up their race day bibs, T-shirts and other swag. The convention center was a runner's paradise filled with vendors offering items ranging from workout gear to energy bars.

Kathryn Kaufman, 21, a Pitt student from Oakmont, was one of the runners picking up her race gear. She started training in January to run her first half-marathon.

"Why not?" she said, when asked why. "I guess I really like running, and Pittsburgh is my city."

Her last long training run, last week, went well. She said she's ready.

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Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707. First Published May 3, 2013 8:00 PM


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