What started out as a nice little race for local runners blossomed into a national and international event when $10,500 in prize money was offered in September, three months after the original registration date.
The field doubled in size to nearly 5,000 that includes runners from 30 states and five countries for the inaugural EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler that will take place Sunday starting at 9 a.m. on a course that starts near Station Square and goes through the West End, North Side, Lawrenceville and the Strip District and finishes in the heart of Downtown.
The male and female open champion each will receive $2,500.
The title sponsor is the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc., which also sponsored the Marathon and GNC Liberty Mile earlier this year.
“We were hoping for 2,500 runners when we originally launched the 10 Miler in June,” said Kelsey Jackson, public relations manager for Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. “The later entrants included about 30 elite runners in addition to runners of all abilities. We wanted to re-enforce our commitment to running in Pittsburgh and the area.
“This will be our last big event of the year.”
Jackson said there will be a lot of runners who competed in the other races this year. The minimum age is 14, but there will be an elder statesman of 78 in the field.
“We’ve worked with the city and found a date that made sure the Steelers weren’t in town,” she said.
What about the Pirates in the World Series?
“When we started planning the event at the beginning of the year, we weren’t thinking about that,” she said, with a laugh. “Maybe we should have.”
There will be a festive atmosphere on the course with nine local bands volunteering their time and high-five zones throughout.
“We want this to be fun for all involved,” she said. “For the runners and the spectators.”
The star-studded men’s field features Kenyan Julius Kogo, who set a personal best time of 45:55 in a recent victory at the Crim 10 Miler; Kenyan Reuben Limaa; and Scottish runner Andrew Lemoncello. There are four Americans who have broken 48 minutes for 10 miles — Brent Vaughn, Andrew Carlson, Ian Burrell and Jon Grey. Other Americans to watch are Fernando Cabada, the former U.S. 25K record holder; and three-time national champion Jon Peterson, who recently won the Medtronic TC 10 Miler in 49:09.
The women’s field boasts Ethiopia’s Askale Merachi, who recently won the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia with a time of 53:46; Poland’s Karolina Jarzynska, who finished 36th in the 2012 Olympic Marathon in London; and Kenyon Olga Kimaiyo. Americans who could challenge are Addie Bracy and Lindsey Scherf.
“You can’t make any predictions because there are so many elite runners,” Jackson said. “That’s what makes these races so interesting.”
The primary sponsors, along with the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc., are True Runner, Shadyside; WPXI; UmuvU by Dr. Vonda Wright; UPMC Sports Medicine and Station Square.