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How to Watch the Pittsburgh Marathon With a Pint in Your Hand

... Or a pancake on your fork.

Photo by Greg Hauenstein

Like everything around here, the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon has grown steadily over the years. It’s a Pittsburgh tradition. After all, the Three Rivers Arts Festival went from a quiet outdoor gallery show to a 10-day extravaganza. Every Penguins playoff game spills over to envelop the entire Lower Hill. And don’t tell me that Kennywood and Sandcastle don’t have a manifest destiny thing going where they plan to keep expanding until they meet somewhere around the Rankin Bridge.

So what was once a race is now a weekend. There’s the marathon and half-marathon, sure, but there’s also a Kids Marathon, a 5K, a Relay and — yes — a Pet Walk (which provides for the best single sentence on the event website: “If your pet is in heat, please leave her at home.” Always good advice.) Don’t actually wanna lace up your shoes and/or leashes? You can still take in the two-day fitness expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center or the massive post-race festivities at Point State Park. (Check out the full schedule of events for even more, including pasta.)

But perhaps you’d just like to watch the athletes in action without any exertion. Perhaps you’d like a frosty beverage in your hand at the time. Maybe a snack, even. Well, because the Pittsburgh Marathon winds through some of our favorite neighborhoods, we’re happy to provide a rundown of spots where you can kick back and watch the more-athletically inclined do their thing.

Sadly, we can’t comment on watching a marathon without addressing recent events. The marathon has added a rundown of safety procedures and advice here. Still, we know that there are some who will feel uneasy, to say the least, at the prospect of taking in the race. And that’s OK. If you’d like to support from home, you can watch the race on your computer and even receive text alerts about the progress of individual runners. And by the way, make sure you stop by the fitness expo sometime this weekend and grab a Boston Strong bracelet — the Pittsburgh Marathon is teaming up with races in Cleveland and Cincinnati to raise funds for the Boston One Fund.

If you are planning on heading to the marathon, though, here are our picks.

  • Your earliest chance at catching the race might be in the Strip. After an initial jaunt down Liberty Avenue, the course turns at 29th and doubles back along Penn. And since it’ll be early — the race starts at 7 a.m. — how ‘bout breakfast? Grab a plate at DeLuca’s after you cheer on the early leaders — hang out long enough, and you can transition over to Roland’s Seafood Grill at 10 for a wake-up brew.
  • It’s a more distant view of the action, but you can grab a Bloody Mary and find a pretty good vantage point from within Rivers Casino; runners will cross over the nearby West End Bridge (easily seen from the Grandview Buffet) and then head back toward downtown along Carson Street (visible from the Drum Bar).
  • Yes, we said Carson Street — the race goes through the heart of the South Side. Options for both grub and drinks will likely be too numerous to name, but arrive pre-race to try and suss out just who will be opening early for the event; the race is only a few hours after Saturday night action winds down, so some favorites might skip the festivities.
  • Brunch on Walnut Street? That’ll do nicely, as the race diverts off of Fifth Avenue just to hit the posh block. We’re not sure about bars, but Pamela’s will be open. And a stack of hotcakes is just as good as a beer.
  • By the time they open for business, the winners will have passed — but Sunday Brunch begins at Del’s Bar in Bloomfield at 11 a.m. Hit up the waffle bar and cheer on the warriors rounding Liberty for the home stretch. It’s great to see the elite runners vying for the lead, but it’s even better to watch a first-timer pushing themselves through to the end. Let ’em know that their time isn’t what matters.

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