Pittsburgh Marathon signups not left out in cold

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Despite one of the coldest and snowiest winters in recent memory, registration for the 2014 Pittsburgh Marathon has not been slowed significantly, according to race director Patrice Matamoros.

Marathon officials announced Monday that registration for the half marathon and marathon relay set May 4 have both sold out. The half marathon sold out Feb. 27 last year, but Matamoros attributed the delay to a change in the organizers' registration system rather than lagging interest.

"We're now able to tell how many true registrations we have from everybody," she said. "If you look at our numbers from last year at this time, we're ahead of where we were in terms of the number of registrations that have come in."

The half marathon will have 16,000 entrants, roughly the same number as last year, and the relay will go off with 1,100 five-person teams for 5,500 total runners.

Matamoros said the only races that are growing this year are the kids marathon, which has expanded to more than 80 area schools, and the 5K race.

Space is running out in the full marathon, with only about 300 spots remaining.

Registration covering all five races (marathon, half marathon, relay, 5k and kids marathon) is up 11 percent from this point last year, according to Matamoros.

"We saw a little bit of [weather] impact in the full marathon, but really not a significant impact," she said. "We're really almost neck and neck with where we were last year."

For those runners that have had their training impacted by winter weather, the Marathon offers training support through the Steel City Road Runners club to help get runners back on track.

This year, the race's sixth since its return from a five-year hiatus, organizers also are introducing two new initiatives. The first is the "Run Home to Pittsburgh" theme. Race officials are encouraging out-of-town runners with ties to Pittsburgh to register and come back for a big reunion across the city race weekend.

"We're saying, 'Come back, you've got to see the city, it's great,' " Matamoros said. "It's full of trails, it's full of rivers. It's got a great atmosphere."

The second new wrinkle is the addition of a $40,500 prize purse for the top American runners in this field. Matamoros said the goal is for the Pittsburgh Marathon to become a popular choice for elite runners to earn qualification for the Boston Marathon or the Olympics.

"We want to really just turn the Steel City in to the city of Olympic dreams," she said.

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

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