If you live in Pittsburgh and pound the pavement, this is for you.
We’ve scoured the race calendars and rifled through countless event listings in search of the most Pittsburgh runs around. The result, you ask? You’re looking at it friends. It’s a yearlong guide to the races that have become synonymous with the Steel City. So without further adieu, here are the 15 Pittsburgh races that, regardless of whether you run for fun, to win, or in support of a cause, every Runner of Steel has to try – at least once!
Pirates fans, this is for you. Starting on Federal Street, the Pittsburgh Pirates 5k Home Run heads down General Robinson Street before swinging back along where Pedro hits home runs and ends at home plate in PNC Park. This is even better than the Great Pierogi Race; every racer receives a voucher for a complimentary ticket to a Bucco home game in April. Each April, come out in your black and gold for the 5k run, walk, or one-mile family fun run.
6.6. That’s a strange distance for a race…if you’re not from Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Penguins 6.6k pays homage to Le Magnifique himself, #66 Mario Lemieux. The proceeds go to two great Pittsburgh charities, the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and the Mario Lemieux Foundation. And it wouldn’t be a Penguins event without some hockey. Your race bib from the 6.6k or 1-mile walk buys you entry to watch an open Penguins practice directly after the race. Just another reason to rush Consol Energy Center in early October.
Billed as the fastest race in Pittsburgh, the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile is an opportunity to lace up your PF Flyers to soar down Penn Ave, wrap around the convention center, and race back Liberty Ave to the finish line. This distance covers 1 mile from the starting line. There are a number of different heats (appropriate language for July-August). One for Fun is for first-timers and recreational runners. The Pup Trot is for our four-legged friends. Kids of STEEL is for kids 13 and under. Then there are the big leagues: Are you Unstoppable? That race is a competitive mile for those that can run a sub-6:00 mile. Faster still? Men who can run a 4:00 min/mile and women who can run sub-4:40 should contact the race directors here.
This is the big one. And the race presenters certainly know how to do it up big. The Pittsburgh Marathon and UPMC Health Plan Half Marathon are one of the fastest growing races in the country. Last year alone, 36,970 racers crossed the finish line. 60 bands played along the course. And most importantly, 100 charities were supported. Come May, you’ll cross our 3 rivers by 5 different bridges on a route that sends you through 13 Pittsburgh neighborhoods. What’s crazy is there’s more. In addition to the half and full, you’ve got a relay, a 5k, a Kids Marathon, a Pet Walk, and a pre-race health and fitness expo.
As sure as pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, the annual Turkey Trot is run on the North Shore Thanksgiving morning. Gear up for your long day of giving thanks (you know…eating) by participating in any 3 distances of the Trot: 1-Mile Family Fun Run/Walk, 5k Turkey Trot, or 5-Mile Turkey Trot. All proceeds go to YMCA’s programs to help those who struggle to put food on the table and participants are asked to bring a non-perishable food donation. Let’s see you be fast before you feast.
Who’s feeling festive? Dust off your Santa hat, tie bells to your shoes, and deck yourself in holiday-themed attire from head to mistletoe. The Jingle Bell Run/Walk is held at Heinz Field to the tune of a 1-mile sprint, 5k run/walk, and even a Tinsel Trot for kids under 11. And what’s awesome about this race (other than everyone’s musical shoes) is that it raises funds to find a cure for arthritis. ‘Tis the season to join a team, mingle and jingle, and run for a great cause.
The EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler is one of the newer races to the Pittsburgh race circuit, but is easily becoming a quick favorite. Prepare for some of the best views of the Burgh as you run past the Duquesne Incline, through the West End, North Side, and Strip District neighborhoods. Then, finishing in the heart of the city. People love the 10 Miler. It’s a middle ground between a tough 10k and grueling half-marathon. Not ready for 10? Try the 2-person relay or team challenge. Run this route in late-October or early-November each year.
When you ask a Pittsburgher if there are any great races in the city, we’re 100% sure they’ll have an answer ready for you. It’s no secret that the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race is a Pittsburgh tradition. That’s why over 10,000 of your neighbors run it every September. Starting in Frick Park, this predominantly downhill 10K allows you and fellow racers to run through Oakland, up Boulevard of the Allies, and the route spills you out into a warm reception at Point State Park. There’s also an annual 5k event that starts in Oakland, for those who just want a taste of greatness.
They call it a fast-moving house tour. You’re invited to participate in the Run Shadyside 5k (and 1-mile Family Fun Walk), a quick jaunt down the historic row of tree-lined streets. The Shadyside neighborhood is full of well-paved streets, trendy shopping areas, and impressive manors, but you’ll want to keep your eyes towards the Walnut Street finish line, as the winner of each age group wins a medal. This race supports the programs of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Shadyside, enabling over 900 youngsters to reach their full potentials.
When the summer is running down, that means it’s time to Run Around the Square. Regent Square, that is. It’s a community race that supports the community. And you’ll be running through the pride of the Regent Square neighborhood. The first half of the race takes you through the square, while the second leg winds you through Frick Park’s beautiful cross-country trails. With the backing of local businesses and a festive atmosphere of sideline musicians and volunteers, you don’t want to miss this 5k and 1.5-mile run/walk.
There’s only one race in Pittsburgh that truly let’s you run wild. You know, run like a cheetah, stampede like a buffalo, or scamper like a penguin. Well at the ZooZilla 5K Gorilla Run/Walk, you’ll be right at home. Because it’s at the Pittsburgh Zoo! Held in November to the honor of the discovery of rare mountain gorillas, this race benefits the zoo’s kingdom of animals and programs. Competitive runners, leisurely walkers, and animal lovers alike are welcome to participate.
If you’re not a master of sarcasm, you might sign up for the wrong event. Just a Short Run benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society with a feature 30k. That’s not short. But, they also have half-marathon (13.1 miles), 8.1-mile, and 5k, all through the scenic rolling hills of North Park. For over 15 years, runners have been racing in support of leukemia and lymphoma research every March.
The frozen months of the year can put a damper on your running regimen. The treadmill just isn’t the same. But there’s one way to heat up the pavement and welcome in Spring race season. For almost 40 years, the Spring Thaw has been letting runners stretch their legs in 10-mile, 15-mile, or 20-mile races through North Park. Late-February marks the perfect opportunity for a Pittsburgh Marathon warm-up.
Cancer sucks. It’s crazy to think that one in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Susan G. Komen Pittsburgh Race for the Cure is held to honor the brave women in our lives that have been touched by cancer. And the fundraising aims to turn breast cancer patients into breast cancer survivors – strides we all can get behind. Typically held around Mother’s Day in May, the Race for the Cure 5k runs (and walks!) through Schenley Park. Bring mom, bring grandma, bring your friends, and think pink!
Find the nearest phone booth, Pittsburgh needs its caped crusaders to run a 5k in North Park. You heard right. It’s a 5k run and 1k run/walk that invites you to dress up like a superhero and race to fundraise for the children in dangerous and abusive living environments – those that really need a hero. Be sure to show your support for April’s race – fundraisers of $25 receive a mask and blaster cuffs. And for $50, you get a cape of your own. You had me at blaster cuffs.
We’ll keep you up to date on all things health, fitness and local food in Pittsburgh.