Pittsburgh 2015 Race Guide

After running more than 3500 miles and a few races in 2014 (including 7 half-marathons, 5 marathons, 1 50K and one 50M – complete list here), there is a list of good races in the Pittsburgh area. As many running friends are asking for good race, I hope such a list could be useful! This is definitively not complete and you might find your perfect race elsewhere. However, I am hoping this might help some runners out there!

Happy new year 2015 and run happy!

Finish are of Run Around the Square
Finish are of Run Around the Square

5K & 10K

There are a lot of small races: easy to organize, they do not need to much administrative work (compared to half-marathon of full marathons) and many folks can join (you can even walk a 5K within a hour). There is a good choices for 5K and 10K around. The following are particularly recommended:

  • Run Around the Square (August): very friendly 5K that includes a beer stop and hot dogs at the finish. The race go into Frick park and can be challenging for beginners. Even if the race can be seen as expensive (almost $30), Forbes Magazine reported that you can eat for two days after running so it pays off. See the race website and the 2014 race report.
  • The Steel City Road Runners “Flash 5K” (several races during Summer): the Steel City Road Runners club organize Flash 5K. These are a series of 5K around the city. Races are free of charge and very friendly. You need to be a member of the club, but considering the membership price, this is definitively not too expensive. It gives you an opportunity to gauge your performance without paying an expensive entry fee. See http://steelcityrrc.org/
  • The FAAP Fall Classic 5K or 10K (September): yes, the website sucks but the race is fun! With a registration of $20 that supports a charity, this is a fun race in North Park. Different from the hype of many other race, it can be also challenging for runners not used to trails! See the website http://faap5krace.yolasite.com for more information and the race report of 2013.
  • Marathon week-end 5K (May): yep, the highlight of this week-end is definitively the marathon on Sunday. But the marathon week-end has also a fun 5K, a great way to get started for the week-end! At $40, this is definitively an expensive race but if you are just looking for a first race and discover the marathon events, this is a good event to go. More information on the race website.
  • The Great Race 5K or 10K (September): never run it so far but heard a lot of good things inside the running community. The route is not too difficult and the event is really big. More information on the race website.

Half-Marathon

  • Dirty Kiln (April): dirty kiln is not a race, this is a real challenge! There are two options: a 5 miles and a half-marathon. This is a very challenging course on muddy trails. Very cheap (between $25 and $30), friendly with Pizza at the finish, this is a must-do if you are looking to run trails! More information on the race website or the 2014 race report.
  • Pittsburgh Half-Marathon (May): looking for a half-marathon and not running the Pittsburgh marathon? Do the Marathon! And if you are a member of the Steel City Road Runners, you will have access to a pre-race breakfast and finisher area! More information on the race website.
  • Run to Read (January): a very low-key half-marathon in West Virginia in January that benefits the Volunteer. More information on the race website on the race report.
Finish of the Pittsburgh Marathon!
Finish of the Pittsburgh Marathon!

Marathon

  • Pittsburgh Marathon (May): of all marathons I have done so far, the Pittsburgh marathon is probably one of the best experience. The race is very well organized, go through many different neighborhoods and let you discover the city. More information on the race website or the 2014 race report.
  • Richmond Marathon (November): probably the best marathon I ran after Pittsburgh. The route is beautiful, the support across the different neighborhood is fantastic. One issue: it is far from the Burgh, so, you’d better make a week end of it rather than driving on race day! More information on the race website or the 2013 race report.
  • Erie Marathon (September): flat course with two loops, it can be boring if you expect to have different views during your race. However, Erie is a very easy and scenic course in Presque Isle. Plus, this is a Boston Qualifier race, so, if you want to qualify to go to Boston, this is a good candidate! This event used to have a half and full marathons but, because it is a popular Boston Qualifier, it will be only a full marathon for 2015. More information on the race website, the 2013 race report and the 2014 race report.
  • Columbus Marathon (October): I never run the Columbus marathon but heard many good thing about it! If you want a wonderful fall race, this might be the one for you! More information on the race website.
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On the Laurel Highland Trail

50K

  • Laurel Highlands (June): a challenging 50K or 70 miles race. The first 8 miles have more than 1500 feet of elevation which are very hard to climb. The support is limited (not as many aid stations as in other races) but this is definitively a wonderful and scenic course. If you are in love with trails, this one should be on your list! Be careful, the races have a hard cap and are sold out every year! More information on the race website.
  • Groundhog Fall 50K (May): The biggest surprise of 2014 with Dirty Kiln and Rock’n the Knobb. One of the most friendly race, a lot of support with aid stations about every 5 miles (with people baking cookies for the runners!) or so, a very affordable race ($25 for 25K or $50 for 50K), support of veterans and team RWB. Very good first ultra (if you do the 50K) or trail race (for the 25K). The race director is very friendly (however, a new RD will take over in 2015). More information on the race website or the 2014 race report.

Misc

  • EQT 10 milers (November): there are not so many 10 milers races in this area. The Pittsburgh 10 milers is definitively a good race even is the route is not so scenic. For the price, it provides a good workout and provides the ability to log a long run on a Sunday. If you like to run in the city, this is worth to have a look at this race. See the race website for more information or the race report for more information about the race.
  • Rock’n the Knob (September): a trail run organized by the Allegheny Trail Runner group. Very hilly and challenging course! There is a 5 and 20 miles option to accommodate different running needs! This is a very friendly race and there is a beer brewed just for the race! Definitively a good one if you plan to run on trails! More information on the race website or 2014 race report.
Hungry to pace!
Hungry to pace at EQT!
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Pittsburgh 2015 Race Guide

Run to Read 2014: race report

At a glance

I registered to the Run to Read being held in Fairmont on January 5, 2014. The registration fees were $30, which is pretty cheap for such a distance.

The race is in the middle of West Virginia. In January, it can be really cold here but hopefully, the weather was on our side! This is an afternoon race (started at 2pm, the organizers are thinking to switch the start at 1pm) so, it let some time for the sun to shine! The race itself in on a single road. Pretty simple. Very flat, not so much hills, so, very nice for starting the new year.

The organization was basic – but efficient. The packet pick up is simple: the pack contains one pair of gloves, you bib, a hat and … that’s all! This is a really low-key race, so, nothing fancy in the packet. Also, the event is only timed with gun time. Which is more than enough for most of us. There are 3 water stops as far as I remember but did not take any. In fact, as you take the same road to come back and forth, there are really 2 water stops but the first can be used on your way back as well.

After the race, there is some food prepared by the volunteers. Chili, cookies and other pastries offered to refuel after the race. The food was really good, I suspect it was home made with some secret recipes!

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Organization: simple and efficient
  • Trails in January
  • Friendly and very affordable

Cons

  • Some people might expect more stuff in the packet
  • Also, the start time might be too late for some runners

Let’s do it ?

If you are looking for a low-key and nice race to start the year, this is definitively the one to pick! Please join and enjoy a nice January run: as long as starting in the afternoon do not mind you, it would be perfect!

Run to Read 2014: race report