Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Marathon Motivates the Crowd as Well as Runners

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Marathon Motivates the Crowd as Well as Runners

Article excerpt

As a certified non-runner with Achilles tendinitis and a penchant for sleeping in, I never used to give the Pittsburgh Marathon much attention beyond realizing on one Sunday afternoon each year, "Oh, yeah. The marathon was this morning."

More recently, though, it has become an event I look forward to each May, including this coming Sunday.

That's because I am a member of Steel City Greyhounds, an organization that helps find homes for retired racing greyhounds. We're one of the many "cheerathon" teams, made up of various charities and community organizations, that are stationed at different points along the race course.

During the marathon, our group takes over a few blocks of Frankstown Avenue in Homewood with as many greyhounds as we can manage. Most of the dogs are pets that have been adopted through Steel City Greyhounds, but some are available for adoption.

As former racers themselves, the greyhounds help inspire the runners. Some participants take us up on the offer of running with a greyhound for a block. Others dash over to give the dogs a quick pat. Still other runners laugh when they see some greyhounds sprawled out on the street (which is truly a greyhound's natural state most of the time). The runners often say that they feel like doing that themselves.

What inspires me most about the marathon each year, however, is the human spirit that electrifies the air. We are stationed at Mile 18, at a point when some runners look as if they're not going to make it much farther. Some are walking. Some are limping. All are sweating.

Despite this, most of them have a look of determination in their eyes that seems to say, "I've come this far. I'm not giving up." I am always amazed at the thousands of people who are willing to attempt such a colossal undertaking. Some even do it in goofy costumes that can only add to the challenge of completing 26 miles. …

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