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November 8, 2013 -- Last month, Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. CEO Patrice Matamoros announced the formation of the American Development Program, an initiative set up to help fund and support American distance runners through providing increased prize money and exposure at events. Yesterday, Race Results Weekly spoke with Matamoros, who explained the program and it's goals of establishing elite athletes as role models in the community.
"We have a really strong mission in terms of running and giving back to running, so we think it's natural to give back to running in such a visible, but also such a supportive, way," Matamoros told RRW in a telephone conversation. "Our hope would be that one day we would be a stepping stone to helping somebody get to the Olympics."
Matamoros described the program's efforts as a two-pronged attack. One, increased prize purses will be up for grabs at Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. events, something for which organizers hope helps drive athletes to achieve more.
As detailed in an October 22 press release, more than $160,000 in prize money incentives will be available at Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. events, including DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon and UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon (May), GNC Live Well Liberty Mile (August), and the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler (November).
Second, and perhaps more important, will be the opportunity to establish runners as figures in the Pittsburgh community.
Matamoros believes a crucial step in continuing to develop the athletes and their following is by connecting them with runners in the area. Prior to last Sunday's EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler, Americans Jonathan Grey, Fernando Cabada, Jon Peterson, and Ian Burrell each teamed with athletes from Baldwin High School as part of a "shadow an elite" program, and attended a Steel City Road Runners practice. This kind of outreach benefits both athlete and sport, Matamoros said.
"We're committed to do whatever serves the industry best in the sense that we're looking at the next generation of runners because we're hoping they will help inspire and motivate others to become runners," she said. "The ultimate goal is to take those runners and see if we can create stars in Pittsburgh. If we can create stars in Pittsburgh with runners that aren't necessarily from Pittsburgh, then I think it may be a great model in terms of 'can we help build somebody and create stars in our sport again.'"
Matamoros strongly believes there is still a great amount of opportunities that the American Development Project can tap into.
"I think our next steps as a program as a whole is to continue to build the presence of pro athletes with our community. I think we're going to be looking at different strategies, different ways to reach the community," she said. "We've had some brainstorming sessions of different ways of how we can really partner the two and connect them."
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg