This year will be my 7th time I run some race on Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday. I started back in 2012 with my first half marathon and this year I will be lacing up for my 10th overall marathon. Being my hometown race, I have so much love for this race and this city on race day. Pittsburgh is an amazing city on any day, but on that first Sunday in May, it becomes something else and people show up to support 30,000+ runners. As we are just over 2 months away until race day, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite neighborhoods along the course.
1.) Maybe I’m biased, because it’s my neighborhood but I love the Northside. And specifically, I love Mismosa Lane. There is a small section right at mile 4 that is lined with people from the same streets and they come out in full force. Okay, maybe they might have had a few mimosas by the time I get to them, but they are a blast! They are loud and they cheer every runner on. If you are lucky, they might even share a mimosa with you! Whether you are running the half or the full, you will get the chance to run by this cheer section.
2.) You will only go through this neighborhood if you are running the full, but when you turn into Homewood, you are going to be welcomed like a king. Any normal day, this might not be the best neighborhood in Pittsburgh, but on race day, that’s certainly not the case. In the brief time you go through Homewood, you see more water stations set up by neighbors than any other area. This is around mile 18 of the marathon, so you certainly need the extra love as well. People are playing music and dancing in the streets with you. This neighborhood brings the energy when you need it most. I’ve run the full twice now and each year, I finish saying this is my favorite neighborhood. As a bonus, toward the end of the neighborhood will be the Steel City Greyhounds and if they are napping, they will get up and run a few yards with you! Who doesn’t love puppies?!?!
3.) If you blink during this part, you can easily miss running through the West End. This might be the shortest neighborhood you run through, but it’s jammed packed with energy. This small neighborhood comes right after you cross over the West End Bridge. It has a pretty steep, but short, downhill, about .3 miles on the main street and then you’re out. However, for that half mile, you see nothing but a wall of people. As a spectator, it’s also not ht easiest neighborhood to get to, so those are certainly the dedicated ones out there. It might be small, but come marathon day, it is mighty. The best part is that all runners pass through this one.
4.) This neighborhood is for the marathoners only, but as one of the last neighborhoods on the course, Bloomfield doesn’t disappoint. What helps this neighborhood is it’s length. You will run through Bloomfield for almost 2 miles it seems. Through the entire time, there are people cheering, high fiving and giving you a great last push to the finish line. If you are lucky, you might even get a popsicle around this area. There is usually a group giving them away and on a hotter race day, they are magical. The other nice thing about Bloomfield is that you are about 6k away from the finish line and it includes a nice downhill, which also will have beer halfway down provided by the Pittsburgh Harriors.
5.) Another great neighborhood is the South Side. Not only is this area packed with people the whole mile down Carson, it’s also the flattest part of the course. Sometimes I think people are still out there from their Saturday night fun, but I won’t judge, because they are cheering the runners on and having fun. There are also usually candy stations along this section and that’s always great. If you’re running the half, you know you’re coming into the last 5k and if you’re in the full, unfortunately, you know the big hill is coming. Even with that, the South Side brings the energy and you will want to make sure you feed off of it.
No matter if you are running the half or the full (or even a part of the relay), you will be loved out there on the Pittsburgh course. The residents don’t let down and they are there to cheer you on! They set up water stops, beer stops, candy stops and bring out the music as well. So, when you need a pick me up during your race, know that you can count on the city of Pittsburgh to be there and be there big time.
And if you haven’t signed up yet, there is still plenty of time! You can use code PRIORDSGPM18 to save $10 off your race. The code is good until 3/31.