Pittsburgh Triathlon.

As a past participant in two triathlons and several marathons, Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon (P3R) COO and Director of Operations Dee Stathis is no stranger to endurance races. However, when it comes to the upcoming Pittsburgh Triathlon and Adventure Race, she’d prefer to work behind the scenes.

“I always feel inspired when I see these people, but I don’t need to do that again,” says Stathis with a laugh.

Stathis produced the 2016 Pittsburgh Triathlon and Adventure Race with P3R CEO Patrice Matamoros. This year marks the first time P3R took on the epic race since it was founded in 1998 by the nonprofit Friends of the Riverfront, which created it as a fundraiser to support recreational use of the region’s natural resources.

Over the course of eight years, P3R has focused on promoting long-distance running in the region by developing events such as the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler and the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile. The organization took on the triathlon to broaden their scope beyond running.

The Pittsburgh Triathlon and Adventure Race takes place on on Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14, and will feature a new route meant to challenge athletes and showcase the city’s rivers and trails, as well as scenic landmarks such as Point State Park and Riverfront Park on the North Shore.

“There aren’t very many urban triathlons around the country, and our city is perfect for it,” says Stathis. “We have the three rivers and we have beautiful trails along them.”

The event requires swimming, biking and running in three races, ranging from the Olympic-distance, USA Triathlon-sanctioned race, to the medium-level Adventure Race (which features a 2-mile long kayak paddle instead of a swim), and the more casual Sprint Triathlon. There are also relays where team members can take on different legs of a race.

Image courtesy of Friends of the Riverfront.
Image courtesy of Friends of the Riverfront.

All swimming and kayaking will take place in the Allegheny River, while the biking portion will take riders on a loop across the Roberto Clemente Bridge and through the North Shore. Runners will traverse the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, a 37-mile pedestrian trail and greenway system stretching along both sides of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers. As opposed to previous years, the running route will compensate for construction taking place between the 6th and 7th Street bridges on the North Shore.

Because the race caters to various skill levels and age groups, Stathis says they will see an increase in participants from last year, with over 800 expected to compete.

“When a lot of people think of a triathlon, they think it’s not doable for them,” says Stathis. “But this is so participant-friendly because you don’t have to swim in the river if you don’t feel comfortable.”

Attracting more competitors to the triathlon will benefit the mission of Friends of the Riverfront, which will use proceeds from the event to maintain and extend the historic Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Stathis explains that the group plans on connecting Three Rivers to Erie and to the Montour Trail, which stretches out to the Pittsburgh International Airport.

“It’s got all these little pieces that it’s missing and the Friends of the Riverfront are getting these connectors in place so that people can continue biking to all these great places,” says Stathis. “They’re really doing a lot of really great work.”

Amanda Waltz

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.