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Pittsburgh to host USA Track & Field half-marathon championships

| Tuesday, March 7, 2017, 2:57 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Runners keep their pace through Homewood as they run the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.

Pittsburgh will host the USA Track & Field national half-marathon championships in 2018 and 2019, officials said Tuesday.

The championships will be part of the annual Pittsburgh Marathon weekend. Next year's event will be the 10th anniversary of the marathon's return after a five-year hiatus.

“We wanted to do something super exciting, super special for the 10th anniversary,” said Patrice Matamoros, CEO of P3R, the nonprofit that organizes the Pittsburgh Marathon. “So we decided to bid on the U.S. national half-marathon championships, and we did it, we got it, and we're so excited.”

America's top distance runners, including Olympic hopefuls, are expected to compete, officials said. The prize purse is $85,000.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and VisitPittsburgh President Craig Davis said the city's annual marathon events, held on the first weekend of May, has been an economic windfall for the region.

“They own that weekend in May,” Davis said. “Our hotels are full, our restaurants are full, and there are people in the streets. It's a wonderful time.”

In 2015, the marathon generated an estimated $10.2 million in direct spending and room demand of 8,450 room nights, race organizers said. Last year's numbers were not available.

About 40,000 runners will compete in this year's events: the 26.2-mile marathon, 13.1-mile half-marathon, marathon relay, 5K, kids marathon and pet walk. About 300,000 spectators are expected.

“2018 and 2019 will be a showcase for the city of Pittsburgh,” Peduto said. “We show off the city, we bring people from around the world to be participants in it, and now with the championships being held here, we up the profile of the Pittsburgh Marathon.”

Chris Togneri is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5632 or ctogneri@tribweb.com.

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