Pittsburgh Marathon Training – “Why Pittsburgh? It’s a ‘Burgh Thing”

If you’re a regular reader of Adventures by Daddy, you already know I’m in training for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  I’m working to be a “Runner of Steel” – so to speak.  However, the question’s been posed – “why Pittsburgh?”  There are so many marathons, in so many destinations, New York, London, Hawaii, etc., why/how did you settle on Pittsburgh?  Ahhh, I have many reasons, all summed up with, “it’s a ‘Burgh thing.”  What? You need a better reason than that? Keep reading…

OK, ok, let’s get the obvious out of the way – I grew up in Pittsburgh, and many formative moments of my life occurred in the area.  The church where my wife and I got married, Calvary United Methodist on the North Side – we’ll run by that around mile 6.

The building where I pulled all-nighters studying for undergraduate neuroanatomy exams and eating Roy Rogers fried chicken, University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning – we’ll pass near the marathon’s halfway point.

The Strip District, South Side, Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, Bloomfield, and Downtown are all neighborhoods I claimed as stomping grounds in one form or another, and we’ll pass through them all during the marathon’s 26.2 mile trek.  However, Pittsburgh has broader appeal than to just those of us with intense civic pride.

In a recent issue of National Geographic Traveler, Pittsburgh was proclaimed as one of the “must see” destinations of 2012.  Seriously?  Yeah, seriously.  Pittsburgh is full of art and culture.  Steel Magnate Andrew Carnegie left an indelible impression upon the city when he bequeathed large portions of his fortune to establish the Carnegie Library, Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History and Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum.  Downtown theaters in the Cultural District, including the Benedum Center, Heinz Hall and others, support more than 2,000 productions each year and are home to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theater, and the Civic Light Opera.

Pittsburgh was home to children’s television icon Fred Rogers, creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and many pieces from the Neighborhood (including the iconic trolley) are preserved in the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.  Other kid-friendly attractions include the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Senator John Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, and one of my favorites, Kennywood Park.

Founded in 1898 as a “trolley park,” Kennywood is one of the oldest amusement parks in the country, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.  In addition to being a beautiful, historic park, Kennywood boasts 6 roller coasters including jarring wooden coasters such as the Thunderbolt and Jack Rabbit as well as steel coasters like Phantom’s Revenge – which when it opened boasted the longest hill (230 feet) and fastest speed (85 mph) of any coaster in the world.

Finally, it goes without saying that Pittsburgh is a “sports mecca” in the country.  The “City of Champions” is home to three professional sports franchises including football’s Pittsburgh Steelers, hockey’s Pittsburgh Penguins, and baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates.  All three clad in the city’s colors of “black and gold,” and have won championships in their respective sports.  In fact, growing up in the 70’s, it wasn’t until I reached Jr. High that I realized it was not a common occurrence for your school to play the Steeler fight song on the PA system, host a Super Bowl party nearly every year, and show Steeler highlight films on the last day of school (still miss seeing those).

Pittsburgh is a city that truly does offer something for everyone – be it arts, outdoors, spectator sports, or family fun.  However, one of Pittsburgh’s greatest assets is its residents.  Pittsburghers are blessed with a fun sense of humor and midwestern sensibility.  They don’t take themselves too seriously, and are always willing to help out n’nat.  N’nat?  Oh yeah, Pittsburgh has its own language too.  Jeez-o-man!  Yinz din’t know that?!?  Yinz gots to get to the ‘Burgh n’nat!  That’s it, Fort Pitt!  Oh yeah, don’t look now, but Kennywood’s open.

In addition to my personal fitness goal, I’m dedicating my Pittsburgh Marathon training efforts to raise money for Give Kids The World, and I’m asking readers to donate $26.20 ($1/mile of the marathon) to my GKTW Pittsburgh Marathon ChallengeClick here for the next installment of my training efforts for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  For more running adventures, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.