Dapper Dan: Sportswoman of the Year Matamoros dealt with 'after-Boston'

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Patrice Matamoros remembers exactly where she was when she heard the news of the Boston Marathon bombings.

With just a few weeks to go until the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 5, Matamoros, the race director, spent April 15, 2013, bouncing from one meeting to the next in the Marathon's North Shore offices until a coworker interrupted her to give her the news

After the initial shock wore off, a more pragmatic concern set in: Matamoros and her staff had their own marathon less than three weeks away.

The events in Boston sent her and her staff into overdrive, but they ensured that the 2013 Pittsburgh Marathon went off without any significant security threats and was one of the most successful they had put on since its return in 2009.

For her deft handling and direction of the 2013 Pittsburgh Marathon amid significantly increased security concerns, Matamoros has chosen the 2013 Dapper Dan Sportswoman of the Year.

It wasn't easy.

Matamoros recalled the days and weeks leading up to the race, understandably, as even more chaotic than usual.

"I think in past years, the two weeks before the race have been really crazy, busy, hectic," she said.

"This year, it felt like four weeks of race week instead of just one because of all the things we were making sure we had in check for the marathon."

Those preparations included hiring an additional 200 police and security forces to work on race day, as well as changing security protocols for runners and spectators.

As the first major American marathon after Boston, Pittsburgh also served as an example for how to handle race security in the wake of the bombings.

Matamoros said directors from the Chicago, Houston and Twin Cities marathons, among others, visited on race day, both to lend a hand and to see how things ran.

"We just shared some of the stuff we had done and I think it was a good opportunity for them to see what plans we had in place and how it unfolded on race day," Matamoros said.

"You don't know how good your plans are until you're using them in real time."

In addition to making sure that the race went off without a hitch, Matamoros and her crew also were able to provide an unforgettable experience for 37 runners who could not finish the Boston Marathon because of the bombings.

With Dick's Sporting Goods picking up the tab, the Pittsburgh Marathon flew them out and let them run.

"It just was so unbelievable that we could offer that opportunity and that Dick's Sporting Goods was willing to provide that opportunity for those runners," Matamoros said. "I think it was life-changing for them and it was life-changing for us."

Matamoros already is deep in preparations for the 2014 Pittsburgh Marathon, which hopefully will go off with fewer complications.

The Marathon has added a $40,500 American prize purse to next year's race, giving prizes to the top five American men and women finishers in both the Marathon and half-marathon.

The total purse for the 2014 races is more than $135,000, the largest in the race's history.

Matamoros has served as the marathon's race director since she helped bring it back in 2009 after a five-year hiatus.

The marathon weekend -- composed of the big race, the half-marathon, the kids marathon and the 5K -- is the group's flagship event, but Matamoros and her colleagues also are responsible for a number of other events throughout the year.

They stage an annual Halloween 5K run, and in 2012 added the Liberty Mile one-mile race to the calendar. The newest addition was a 10-mile race in November that debuted last month.

"Our goal is really to showcase Pittsburgh as a healthy and fit city," Matamoros said.

"We are so happy that so many people in Pittsburgh and across the state of Pennsylvania come to run and show that we do have a really healthy city."

Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.

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