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Pittsburgh adds half-marathon to calendar

| Friday, Aug. 28, 2009

Pittsburgh runners waited six years for the marathon to return to the city last May.

Now, in addition to having that full 26.2-mile spring race, they also have the new MedExpress Spirit of Pittsburgh Half Marathon to look forward to.

The 13.1-mile half-marathon, founded by Columbus, Ohio-based Run Wild Racing, will take place Nov. 1, beginning and ending in the SouthSide Works. Run Wild CEO and race director Doug Grout said it will be a fairly flat, fast course that will cross four bridges and encompass some of the city's best scenery.

The total purse for the event will be $37,000, and Grout hopes to have elites from around the world included among the maximum 5,000 runners at which they'll cap registration.

Grout said the difference between his race series -- currently at two races with the first this weekend in Columbus -- and others is that he wants to put the race back in racing.

"Lots of races today focus on come one, come all," Grout said. "Ours really emphasizes providing a celebration to people for their efforts. This is the culmination of three, six, nine months of training with the purpose of running a half-marathon. It's more along the lines of the attitude that the people are going to give it everything they have. It's not just about finishing. It's about coming in and racing."

With that in mind, runners must keep a sub-15-minute mile pace or risk getting picked up in the SAG vehicle that travels in the back of the pack.

Last year was the first Spirit of Columbus half-marathon, and the race had 800 entrants, with 41 elites. They capped registration for this year's race at 2,000 and have 93 elites.

Grout said that Pittsburgh was already on his radar screen as a possible expansion location, but the successful partnership with the Pittsburgh Marathon made it an even better fit.

"Our race is a complement to their race," Grout said. "People who are planning to do the marathon next year can have a fall race to kick off their training."

There are currently 1,700 people registered for the half-marathon, and Grout hopes to attract 40 to 50 elites in the first year.

Two-person relay, race walk and wheelchair options are also available. For more information on the MedExpress Spirit of Pittsburgh Half Marathon, visit .

Additional Information:

Get ready now

Hotel space for the Great Race, which will be run Sept. 27, may be affected by the international G20 summit, which will held downtown Sept 24 and 25.

Race officials are advising people to consider booking rooms as soon as possible. A list of hotels, plus information on a special rate at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center in Greentree, is available at .

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