A new partnership is letting runners in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh marathon track their progress against others as they train for the May 1 race.

The marathon’s website now has a leaderboard of runners who use a device called the Milestone Pod (which retails for about $17.95) that attaches to the runner’s shoe. The pod syncs with an app on the runner’s smartphone, and tracks stats like weekly miles run, average cadence and average foot strike, then compares them with others. More than 500 people are signed up for the leaderboard so far in the first week of the contest, and top performers can win prizes.

Patrice Matamoros, CEO of P3R which organizes the marathon, says the goal is not to make anyone feel overwhelmed, or like they’re not good enough to compete with the other runners. “We’re really hoping it will be motivational, not make people feel pressured,” she says. “You can look at the leaderboard on a day when you’re not feeling like doing your run and see how many people have already put in their miles and know that you can do it, too.”

Runners at marathon level want to have as much information about their training as they can get their hands on, Matamoros says, which is why they decided to go with the Milestone. “It does give a lot of different information than other wearables,” she says. Aside from comparing themselves to other runners, runners who have a heel-strike stride, for instance, would be able to track their performance on days when they wore a certain pair of running shoes, and compare it to days when they wore a different pair.

The Milestone Pod is just one of the techie features of this year’s marathon, Matamoros adds. Every registered runner’s bib has a QR code on it so when they cross the finish line they can scan it and get information about their time. Friends and family of runners can sign up to get text messages for updates on race day, to find out when their runner has hit the 10-mile mark, for instance.

In related news, VisitPittsburgh said Tuesday that the 2015 marathon brought $10.2 million in spending to the region’s coffers. That’s up from the $8.3 million the race brought to the region in 2014. The total was calculated by including what runners and visitors spent on transportation, lodging, food and drink, retail and recreation during marathon weekend.

In addition, the Run for a Reason program raised more than $1.5 million for charitable organizations during last year’s race.

Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons is an award-winning writer and editor who spends way too much time on Twitter. Her experience includes crime, features and business reporting, and she has a huge crush on Pittsburgh. She was...