Shaler woman to run Pittsburgh marathon dressed as pierogi, trying for world record
Some run for fitness and personal goals. Others run for fundraisers.
On Sunday, Amanda Webb will run out of love of Pittsburgh.
And she’ll do it dressed as a pierogi.
Webb, 39, of Shaler will run the 26.2-mile Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon in a pierogi costume for a shot at the Guinness Book of World Records title for the fastest woman to run a marathon dressed as an ethnic entree. That’s an important distinction, Webb said, because there is also a snack option.
No one currently holds the record. Webb will need to run the race in under 4 hours to set it.
In the eyes of Guinness, her costume is technically a dumpling. But Webb will be racing with the heart of a pierogi as an ode to the city that helped her renew her love for running and to encourage others to get out and be active.
“I’m never going to win anything. That’s not why I do it,” she said. “It’s about experience and people.”
Webb already has more than 100 marathons under her feet, she said. But before moving to Pittsburgh about eight years ago with her husband, her interest in running had withered. It became too competitive and stressful.
“It was a running community that really changed everything for me,” Webb said of the athletes she met while training and volunteering in Pittsburgh.
“You’re putting in hours to do things. If you’re not having fun doing it, why are you doing it?”
The couple is preparing to move to Colorado in late May.
After spotting a runner dressed as a hot dog at another marathon, her brother suggested she, too, consider a culinary tribute.
“I have a bunch of food allergies. I don’t even eat pierogies or dumplings,” said Webb, who once ran a race in a bunny costume and wore a unicorn onesie to train on a cold winter day in North Park.
But nothing quite says Pittsburgh like a pierogi.
According to Guinness standards, the costume must go over Webb’s head and shoulders and reach her knees.
“Team Dumpling,” as she fondly calls the friends and friends-of-friends who contributed to the project, worked for about eight weeks to construct a base layer of mesh and batting, along with a hooded, satin-trimmed cover layer made out of a stretchy fabric found in the bridal section of a craft store.
A Hula-Hoop covered in duct tape and wooden kebab sticks will give the pierogi some structure, and a slit up the side will give Webb some room to move her legs.
Webb will wear running shorts and a “Team Dumpling” tank top underneath, along with a water vest and a hat to prevent the top part of the pierogi from slipping. The most recent version of the costume was altered to avoid chafing around her neck and chin.
“It’s like a wedding dress gone bad,” Webb said.
Webb will be accompanied by a team of eight witnesses on race day to document her progress. Guinness rules require a picture or video at every mile marker, Webb said. Everyone will be wearing “Team Dumpling” shirts.
“It takes a village,” Webb said. “It’s amazing when you decide to do something, the support.”
Ed Schmiech, 60, of Pine has been part of Team Dumpling since Day 1. He wasn’t surprised when he learned of Webb’s plan.
“Amanda’s always got something going, and she’s full of energy,” Schmiech said.
This will be his ninth marathon. He has run several races with Webb, though he is glad he’s not the one running in the costume.
“Any time I’ve run with her, the farther you go, the stronger she tends to get,” Schmiech said.
A spokesperson from Guinness World Records North America was not able to confirm whether any other world records have been set at the Pittsburgh marathon, but was able to confirm Webb’s application.
After the race, Webb must submit a package of evidence that shows the record criteria were met. Guinness will decide whether she successfully set the record within 12 to 15 weeks.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, [email protected] or via Twitter .