Clothing shed by Pittsburgh Marathon, half marathon runners doesn’t go to waste
A steady drizzle and cooler temperatures Sunday morning required most of the runners of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon and UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon to wear an extra layer.
With Pittsburgh’s unpredictable weather, most experienced runners know they need a long-sleeved layer to keep warm at least through the beginning or first few miles of the races.
But what happens as their temperatures rise and thousands of people have to shed those shirts?
Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania steps in.
Patrice Matamoros, CEO of the marathon and race director, said they have partnered with Goodwill since about 2010.
This year they had volunteers and a box truck that followed the runners for the first few miles to collect any shed clothing.
“It’s really crazy, and it’s about two tons of clothing that we actually donate back to Goodwill,” she said.
Matamoros said the partnership is part of the marathon’s sustainability program that also includes compostable cups and other initiatives to reduce waste.
“We are very conscious of our waste,” she said. “Normally, you don’t think about how much trash and how much waste is the result of a race.”
David Tobiczyk, spokesman for Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania, said the clothing could be put out on the floor at any of their 25 store locations by Monday if volunteers get the items sorted quickly enough.
“It’s usually some pretty nice things that, unbelievably, people do leave behind,” he said.
Tobiczyk said the money from the clothes helps to fund Goodwill’s programs in the area including job training and education programs.
“The generosity of the public is something we really count on,” he said.
O’Hara resident Betsy Magovern, 63, said she advises the runners in her group to always be prepared with an extra layer. She keeps a bin of old race T-shirts in her garage to choose from.
“(You’re) in the corral for potentially a really long time,” she said. “If it’s at all chilly, it’s nice to have that extra layer.”
Friends Gabriella Tissue, 23, and Allie Hamilton, 24, ran the half marathon for the first time together.
Hamilton picked out a long-sleeved shirt to keep her warm during the rainy and cold morning.
“I wore it for the first three miles until I started to feel hot,” she said.
Hamilton said she’s glad her shirt won’t just go into the trash, but instead will be given a new life at Goodwill.
“It definitely makes you feel better,” she said.
Tissue opted to not toss her shirt. She said she had recently purged all her unwanted clothes from her closet and wanted to keep the shirt she brought to the marathon.
“I just tied it around my waist,” she said. “It was so light I didn’t notice it.”
The pair said the atmosphere of the marathon kept them going through the less-than-ideal weather.
Tissue, of Robinson, noted she enjoyed running through the different neighborhoods.
“I don’t see a lot of Pittsburgh even though I live here,” she said.
Peters Township resident Adam Smelko, 16, also ran the half marathon for the first time Sunday. He bought a $3 thrifted windbreaker jacket to keep dry and warm at the beginning. He was glad it would be going to Goodwill instead of thrown away.
“It’s pretty wasteful, so it’s a good alternative,” he said.
Latrobe resident April LeViere has run in 11 marathons, so she was prepared when it came to picking out her “toss” shirt and when to shed it.
“I actually wore an old sweatshirt that I didn’t mind (losing),” she said. “Right before we actually started I tossed it off.”
Matamoros said seeing runners get rid of that top layer is a sign they are really getting into the race and an important part of the day.
“There’s a lot of nervous energy (at the beginning),” she said. “I think that just shedding that extra layer means people are getting into their run and they‘re starting to get warm.”
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .