Six years ago, a Moon Area High School student decided to start a senior project aimed at getting people moving. She created a 10-mile run for the Elite Runners & Walkers community of Robinson and Monroeville, and the organization barely had 50 registered runners that first year.
“We decided, no matter what, to keep it going,” says Kevin Smith, one of the founders of Elite Runners & Walkers.
On Oct. 11, Elite Runners & Walkers sponsored the Harvest Moon Run, including both a 10-mile run and 5K run/walk, which started and ended at St. Philips Church in Moon. Nearly 400 people participated in a race that benefited St. Philips student ministry, says Smith.
“The popularity of marathon running has expanded exponentially,” Smith says, and that includes the increasingly popular 10 miler. “People are looking to push themselves and they understand the importance of living a consistently healthy lifestyle. If you train properly, you can run a 10 miler every weekend. You just have to be consistent and maintain your training.”
Elite Runners & Walkers produces 17 races a year, from Fun Runs and kids’ events with stroller divisions to distances closer to the length of a full marathon. They offer training programs three days a week that include interval training and will host another 10-miler with the Spring Thaw featuring 10, 15 or 20 miles on Feb. 28 at the North Park Boathouse.
To highlight the popularity of distance running in Pittsburgh, Smith points to the 2000 marathon, where 6,400 people total were registered for all marathon weekend events. Last year 30,000 participated in Marathon weekend events, including the including the Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay, 5K, Kids Marathon and Pet Walk.
The marathon will host the EQT Pittsburgh 10-Miler race–a race that keeps gaining in popularity–on Nov. 9. The race starts at Station Square and crosses the West End Bridge, passing through the North Side, the Strip District and Lawrenceville before ending at the Equitable Gas headquarters Downtown.
“A 10 miler is a good distance but it’s not a punishing distance,” Smith says. “You can easily fit that training into a busy work and family life. It’s a tune-up run. You need to train for about 10-18 weeks at about three to four times a week. It’s attainable.”
Kelsey Jackson of Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon says 10 mile races are popular because marathon runners can utilize them to work on their speed and training, and athletes who normally focus on 5K and 10K runs can use a 10 mile race to push their endurance.
Nearly 4,000 runners are already registered, says Jackson, and organizers are hoping to have 5,000 by race day. All runners will receive a medal and a North Face t-shirt. The race features a guaranteed prize purse of $15,500, including $2500 for each race champion, plus new American-only bonuses totaling $5000, Jackson says.
“This is a great race if someone is exploring the idea of running the Pittsburgh Marathon or Half Marathon,” Jackson says. “You can see where you are at base before you start hardcore training for the Marathon.”
The EQT 10 Miler will be headlined by U.S. Half Marathon record holder Ryan Hall and four-time world championship team member Sara Hall, who are husband and wife. Ryan Hall holds the U.S. record at the Half Marathon distance, with 59 minutes, 43 seconds, and the two-time U.S. Olympian has run the fastest marathon of all time by an American at 2:04:58 in the 2011 Boston Marathon.
“I’m excited to see where my fitness is at and test myself against a fast course with great competition,” says Ryan. “I’ve never raced a 10 mile before, so I’m looking forward to the experience of racing the distance for the first time.”
Melissa Migliaro, Program Manager for Corporate Wellness and Steel City Road Runners for the Marathon, is a runner herself, completing the half marathon in May. She said Steel City Road Runners has 1,200 active members participating in training runs and races, and organizers keep in touch with an additional 3,000 through a newsletter.
“There are so many 5K races out there, and the half marathon is pretty popular, too,” Migliaro says. “The 10 mile race is right in the middle, and it’s something different.”
Want more 10 miler options? On Nov. 15, the Twisted Turkey Trail Tussel will be held at the Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve through the Blue Ridge Mountains in Adams County, featuring a 10 mile race. The run, sponsored by the Gettysburg College Office of Experiental Education, will accept registrations until Nov. 11. Funds raised will go toward protecting the Swamp Creek Watershed.
For more information on registering for the Pittsburgh Marathon visit: http://www.pittsburghmarathon.com/
For more information on the EQT 10 Miler Race, visit: htttp://www.pittsburgh10miler.org
For more information or to register visit the Twisted Turkey Trail Tussel.