10 places to cheer on the Pittsburgh Marathon runners

Lace up your shoes, grab your posters and get ready to cheer.

MarathonSigns13
Jasmine Goldband / The Incline
MJ Slaby

While the remaining days to train for the Pittsburgh Marathon are shrinking, there’s plenty of time left to decide where to go as a spectator.

The 10th annual Dick’s Sporting Goods Three Rivers Marathon starts at 7:05 a.m. on Sunday, May 6 and winds throughout the city. It includes 14 neighborhood festivals, most with live music. See the exact path of the runners with these maps of the half marathon and the full marathon. Before you go, check out this guide to getting around town.

To narrow down the options, here are 10 ways to watch and cheer, no matter your race day priorities.

If you want to …

Pancakes on the North Side during last year's marathon.

Pancakes on the North Side during last year's marathon.

Photo by Jason Cohn / courtesy of P3R

Easily get to multiple points on the race route

Hang out on the North Side, advised Kristin Long, merchandise and community relations coordinator for the marathon. Allegheny Center Alliance Church and Urban Impact will host a high-energy neighborhood party at East Ohio Street and East Commons, which includes first-come-first-serve breakfast for spectators, she said.

Plus, it’s a short walk to see runners jog past PNC Park and Heinz Field or to the Strip District and Downtown to see runners tackle their last few miles.

Signs in the South Side during the 2017 marathon

Signs in the South Side during the 2017 marathon

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline

Turn the marathon into a marathon-length party

If marathon day = an all-day party, then head to South Side, where the crowds will be out cheering and the bands will be playing, Long said. And it doesn’t end when the race does.

The South Side is also full of funny signs, which are a good distraction, added Liz Kennon, who leads the Pittsburgh Sports League running group. This will be her seventh year running the marathon. High fives and cheers from the crowd are welcome, too.

Pitt cheerleaders at the 2012 marathon

Pitt cheerleaders at the 2012 marathon

Photo by Jeff Swensen / courtesy of p3r

Provide runners encouragement where they need it

If you want to give moral support to thousands of people, head to Oakland. With the students gone, the crowds there aren’t as big, Kennon said. And it’s a point where runners need support after crossing the Birmingham Bridge and splitting off from the half marathon runners who are the home stretch — so added crowd support is a much-needed boost, she said.

Runners through Shadyside

Runners through Shadyside

photo by Jason Cohn / courtesy of p3r

Watch a relay exchange

In addition to the half and full marathon runners, there are also rely runners attempting the 26.2 miles as a team. Hang out on Walnut and Bellefonte streets for the neighborhood party, and then head over to Mellon Park near Fifth and Penn avenues to watch the relay exchange, Long suggested.

High fives in Homewood

High fives in Homewood

Courtesy of p3r

Party at an A-list event

Every year, runners vote on their favorite neighborhood of the course, and Homewood has the dynasty, winning in 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2013. (Bloomfield snagged it in 2014.) Expect music from DJ Nick Nice, cheer squads and more.

Tanya Ostapenko runs with a greyhound during the 2016 marathon.

Tanya Ostapenko runs with a greyhound during the 2016 marathon.

courtesy of Steel City Greyhounds

Bypass the human runners to see former racing hounds

Spot some extra special spectators in Homewood, too: The Steel City Greyhounds. The group usually brings about 15 to 20 human volunteers along with roughly 20 four-legged ones to Frankstown and Fifth avenues, Korryn Mozisek, the organization’s marathon team coordinator told The Incline via email.

Runners can run with the dogs for a few blocks. Or runners can use the dogs as a excuse for a break to pet them or even lie on the ground together for a bit, she said.

A band plays in Highland Park during the 2014 marathon

A band plays in Highland Park during the 2014 marathon

photo by Jason Cohn / courtesy of p3r

Enjoy jazz while you cheer

The Highland Park festival at Bryant Street Market is a good spot to eat donuts, take the kids for face painting and listen to jazz while the marathon runners pass by, Long said. Bands include Hill Jordan and Slide Worldwide.

The 2015 marathon through Bloomfield

The 2015 marathon through Bloomfield

photo by Jason Cohn / courtesy of p3r

Watch people exercise while you eat and drink

Head to the Strip District or Bloomfield. The Strip has La Prima Espresso Company, plus you’ll be able to see runners during the first few miles and the last few miles, Long said. And Bloomfield is a high-energy party that takes over Liberty Avenue with multiple businesses open to grab coffee or food.

IMG_0202
courtesy of Joe harkiewicz

See runners drink beer, then keep running

The Pittsburgh Hash House Harriers set up on Liberty Avenue (across from Church Brew Works) and to bring beer to the runners. Club members — often in costume — pass out Dixie Cups with sips of light beer to the competitors going by. When it’s all said and done, they’ll have passed out 2,000 tiny cups, Joe Harkiewicz of PGH-H3 said. He said there’s also a big sign, so no runners confuse their station with a water stop.

You did it.

You did it.

photo by Chuck LeClaire / courtesy of p3r

Feel a sense of accomplishment

To be really committed as a spectator, head Downtown where runners will both start and end the half and the full marathons. See them start fresh-faced and watch them achieve their goals and cross the finish line. Or, since it is the end of the race, that means it’s also the best spot to go if you’re running late.