Share This Page

Western Pa. runners among Pittsburgh Marathon's elite

| Thursday, May 2, 2013, 11:24 p.m.

She started training, like most first-time marathon runners, with modest goals. She raised expectations when it became clear that her background as a collegiate athlete would make her more than an average runner.

But Lauren Woodring never envisioned this.

A year after coming within seconds of finishing in the top 10 of the women's division, Woodring returns to the Pittsburgh Marathon with the designation as an elite runner. The Bethel Park resident will be among the local runners to watch Sunday when an estimated 30,000 people take part in the marathon and half marathon.

Woodring, 25, will compete in just her third career marathon, though her brief resume shows why she is an up-and-comer.

Woodring finished 11th in the women's division last year and followed that debut by winning the Columbus Marathon.

Given the success in her first two 26.2-mile races, it is hard to believe that when Woodring started training for the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2012, she hoped to run it in the four-hour range.

She came in at 2:56:27 and should at least crack the top 10 after missing it by two seconds last year.

“I have a race plan, and I'm hoping for a good day,” said Woodring, who works in finance for PNC. “All I can control is my effort.”

Jed Christiansen, like Woodring, declines to make predictions about how he will finish in the marathon.

That is not all the Thiel College assistant track and field coach has in common with Woodring.

Christiansen also is something of a novice to marathon running, though one who has flashed immense promised in his five career races. Christiansen finished first among Americans in the Pittsburgh half marathon last year, fifth overall, and qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials after finishing 14th in the 2011 Chicago Marathon.

“I'm training to get more marathons under my belt and figure out how to do this better,” said Christiansen, a graduate of Greenville High School in Mercer County.

Christiansen took a more conventional route to marathon running than Woodring, who played soccer at Grove City College.

Christiansen was a four-time All-American in cross-country at Calvin College, a Division III school in Michigan, and he trains the distance runners at Thiel.

Despite their different backgrounds, Christiansen and Woodring are the kind of runners the Pittsburgh Marathon wants in its field, race director Patrice Matamoros said. Each were invited to take part in the marathon.

“We want to be the running ambassador in the Western Pa. region, so it's important for us to help develop those athletes in terms of giving them an opportunity to compete against other national or international elite runners,” Matamoros said. “We do go after those runners and do have a relationship with our runners that are Western Pa. athletes.”

Woodring will have plenty of support considering her local roots and the fact that several of her relatives are flying in to cheer her on.

“I'm humbled to be a part of it,” Woodring said, “and happy to do it in the city where I live.”

Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at sbrown@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ ScottBrown_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.