Pittsburgh has a long tradition of sporting excellence, and over the last century, the NFL Steelers, MLB Pirates, and NHL Penguins have combined to bring the city more than a dozen world championships.
Now, the Steel City is looking to become a hub for the nation’s finest runners.
Earlier this week, Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc., announced the creation of the American Development Program, an initiative designed to “increase exposure and racing opportunities for emerging American professional runners,” Running USA reports.
The first step: beefing up prize money and travel assistance for the 2014 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon and UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon. Next year, the American Development Program will add $40,500 to the overall budget.
Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc., is also looking to bolster its calendar of events. In addition to the aforementioned marathon and half-marathon, the group presently sponsors the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile and the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler, which will have its inaugural running on November 3.
The cumulative purse for all four events stands at $160,000, and going forward, athletes meeting “elite” qualifying standards for each of the four races will be able to apply for complimentary entry and travel assistance via the American Development Program website.
“Through our events and support, we want Pittsburgh to become the place for young American runners to launch their professional careers,” Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. CEO Patrice Matamoros said in a press release. “By racing here they will have the opportunity to gain the experience and confidence needed to take the next step in their careers. These athletes are vital to keeping alive the American running spirit and to keep the USA a major force in professional running for years to come.”
“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