Local runners are gearing up, preparing mentally and physically, for the annual Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon and Half Marathon.
The race starts Sunday at 7 a.m. According to the marathon’s website, runners start the race on the city’s North Shore and will cross each of the three rivers as they travel through the South Side, Oakland, Shadyside and Bloomfield neighborhoods.
Evonne Vojnovich, of Homer City, will be running the half marathon for the third time this weekend. She loves running in Pittsburgh, she said.
“It’s just a fun place to run.”
Vojnovich has been running since her mid-20s, she said. She’s 50 now. Normally, she runs six miles per day three days per week, but when training for the marathon, she starts increasing her mileage gradually until race week.
Also in preparation for the half, she does strength training regularly and does classes and Zumba at the YMCA.
Vojnovich loves the atmosphere of the Pittsburgh marathon — “the people that line the streets … people just line the streets and cheer you on.”
Vojnovich’s son, her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend will be there cheering her on during the race.
Plus, she likes the different bands that the marathon sets up throughout the course for some extra motivation along the way.
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This will be Megan Girouard’s second time running the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. Girouard, 23, is a Homer City native who will graduate from Indiana University of Pennsylvania this month.
“I decided to run it last year because I was finally in that phase where I wanted to lose weight and get back in shape,” Girouard said. “I wanted to do something that most people think is crazy and a half marathon seemed to fit.”
She plans to run the full marathon next year.
Participants in the race are running for certain goals, according to the marathon’s website, whether it be to raise money for charity, make a lifestyle change or check an item off a bucket list.
“I chose to run for Children’s Hospital because I wanted to help out the Pittsburgh community, and I also know a lot of people that have had their kids in and out of Children’s. … I’ve seen firsthand how much Children’s is a blessing.”
Her main motivation for running and for working out in general is her health, she said.
“You only get one body and it’s up to you to keep it in good health. Whether I go out running or hit the weight room, it’s a stress relief and takes my mind off the nonstop stresses of life. It’s literally my sanity.”
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Another Homer City resident, Megan Gaydosh, 20, has been running for about seven years. In high school, she said, she was very competitive and ran track and long distance at Homer-Center High School.
“After graduating from high school I kept up with running on my own to keep in shape and because I simply love it,” Gaydosh said.
Last year, she said, was her first time competing in Pittsburgh’s Half Marathon, and she’ll run in the race again this year.
“I wanted to push myself more than I ever had in running and prove to myself that I could run that type of distance. Last year’s race made me fall in love with half marathons.”
She agrees with Vojnovich — what makes the Pittsburgh Marathon so enjoyable is its atmosphere and the crowd.
She’s also run two half marathons locally. She said that oftentimes she can be found on the Hoodlebug Trail.
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For some, events like this are item on a bucket list. That’s the case for Chantelle Colinet, 30, of Blairsville, who is running the half marathon.
“I had never been a distance runner ever,” Colinet said. “It was kind of a goal, a dream of mine to run a half and I want to show my daughter that running can be enjoyable and fun.”
Colinet started running about a year ago, she said. She did a 5K in Indiana recently, where she ran while pushing her 3-year-old daughter in a stroller. She took first place in the race.
She knew she wanted to run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon someday, so she signed up last October. Once she signed up, she knew she had to commit.
The Pittsburgh Marathon will hold a variety of other events throughout the day, including a 5K run, a kids’ marathon and a pet walk.
Thirty-thousand runners are expected to participate in Sunday’s events.
For others running the race Sunday, Vojnovich offers some advice: “Don’t give up. It’s all a mental game. You can do it. Just keep going.”