Picture this: Night in Downtown Pittsburgh, and you’re a kid poised to race a mile through city streets closed just for this race. The lights zip by, and the crowds lining Liberty Avenue cheer. And afterwards, you get to watch some of the fastest runners in the world run the same course.

Billed as “The Fastest Race in Pittsburgh,” the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile is set for Aug. 1, and kids can register online here until July 31, or even on race day in Market Square, which hosts a party for all racers afterwards.

The kids will be competing against the other kid runners or their own previous times. At stake for the professionals is a $25,000 prize.

“It’s also a recreational family event to just go out and do something together,” says Katie Pavlich, event program director for the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, since some parents race with their kids. “It’s an event that everyone can participate in.”

One group of kids has been training since September for this opportunity through Kids of Steel, a program that emphasizes healthy eating and culminates in the one-mile kids’ Pittsburgh Marathon. But the Liberty Mile is actually timed, unlike the kids’ end of the marathon. The six waves of the race include races for everyone from kids five and older to adults. The pro racers are part of the invitation-only American Development Pro Mile. You can friend the race here and follow it here.

“The mile is a great distance for all ages and abilities,” says event spokesperson Kelsey Jackson.

“And the kids get super excited,” says Pavlich.

The finish line is at Liberty and Sixth Street, and after the event there’s a band, food and other fun in Market Square. Pavlich hopes, she says, “that the kids are able to test themselves … so they’re learning fun and fitness at a young age.”

Marty Levine

Marty Levine's journalism has appeared in Time, Salon.com and throughout Pennsylvania and has won awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, The Press...