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Rock 'n' Roll marathon series coming to Pittsburgh in 2013

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Running is as big as it's ever been in Pittsburgh, and the company behind the national Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series has taken notice.

The Competitor Group will bring its hugely popular racing series to the Steel City in the form of a 13.1-mile half-marathon Aug. 4, 2013. A formal announcement is expected this morning.

"It's a great sporting town, and we're familiar with the market from that perspective," Competitor Group's vice president Dana Allen said. "The Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon has really thrived and grown, and we recognize there's a great community in Pittsburgh that really supports races."

The Rock 'n' Roll series, which began in San Diego in 1998, has 24 North American stops and three European stops scheduled in 2012. Their races drew more than 450,000 total participants in '11.

The last time there was a half-marathon on the city streets other than the race run in May, along with the full-distance Pittsburgh Marathon and relay, was in 2009. That race, the Spirit of Pittsburgh, lasted just one year. Allen said her group looked into taking over that race after it was canceled less than two months prior to the 2010 event, but it never came to fruition.

It did, however, lead to further discussions about creating a new race with everyone from Pittsburgh Marathon officials to Lynn Swann, a personal friend of Competitor Group CEO Peter Englehart.

Allen said they haven't settled on a start or finish line, let alone a course, but they do hope to attract 7,500 to 8,000 runners in the first year.

As far as the possibility of heat and humidity in Pittsburgh in early August, Allen said they're equipped to handle those challenges.

"That's one of the reasons we chose the half (as opposed to a full-distance marathon)," she said. "With an early morning start time, we feel OK about it. We have a very, very detailed medical plan and heat plan, and we have a lot of experience putting on these events."

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