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Downtown Revenues Run Up When the Pittsburgh Marathon Hits the Streets

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The annual DICK’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon starts and ends downtown on May 5, but related race events keep business hopping and hotels full throughout the extended weekend.


visitors expected to attend the pre-race Pittsburgh Health & Fitness Expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center


direct spend generated by 2023 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon


downtown hotel rooms booked by attendees and spectators for 2023 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon events

On a cloudy Sunday morning last May – the 15th year of the revival of the DICK’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon -- more than 40,000 runners lined up in downtown Pittsburgh to race. This year, on the same first Sunday in May, about 42,000 will cross the starting line on Liberty Avenue.

Distance running is exploding in popularity all across the United States, and Pittsburgh is no exception, with the full marathon selling out again this year. That interest is translating into positive economic impact, especially in downtown Pittsburgh, which benefits from hosting several key locales important to the race events. As a result, Pittsburgh enjoyed $25 million to $30 million in economic impact from the 2023 marathon weekend, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. It’s a sign of how a singular popular event can generate income for businesses across several days.

Consider the breakdown of marathon events:

The pre-race Pittsburgh Healthy & Fitness Expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center is expected to attract more than 75,000 visitors on May 3 and May 4. 

The “Family Day” of Marathon Weekend on May 4 includes five races, all finishing in downtown Pittsburgh. 

The half and full marathons on May 5 both begin and end in downtown, with the starting line at Liberty Avenue near the convention center and the finish line at Boulevard of the Allies near Wood Street.  

The Pittsburgh marathon is a vital race. It was the 17th largest running event in the United States in 2023, according to RunSignUp. It consistently receives a 5-star rating by race participants on MarathonGuide.com. And it engages more than 50 companies in the FedEx Pittsburgh Corporate Challenge, an opportunity for corporations and companies to promote workplace wellness and build teamwork.

This all adds up to significant dollars spent across three days. The trend is apparent in the year-over-year trajectory of 15% to 20% revenue growth for every post-pandemic year that the Pittsburgh marathon events occur, according to Troy Schooley, CEO of PR3, which organizes the annual Pittsburgh marathon events in addition to other regional sports programs. Last year’s expo generated $2 million in economic impact. This year, runners are expected to raise $1.5 million for charities through the Run for a Reason program.

Over at the convention center, specialty running stores, local chocolate shops, regional whiskey distillers and a gamut of other vendors draw the massive volume of traffic during the two-day expo. Runners merge at the expo to pick up their bibs and any last-minute race provisions. Retailers relish the opportunity to get their brand in front of so many visitors with disposable income. But the spending radiates beyond the walls of the convention center, with the restaurants along Penn Avenue completely jammed with people relaxing and fueling up before and after their races.

“This event brings people from out of the city into downtown and makes them feel like they want to come back and explore even more,” Schooley says.


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