The Best Places to Watch the Pittsburgh Marathon

Thousands will turn out on Sunday for the urban race. Where will you park your chair?

photos by Richard cook


On May 3, thousands of runners will hit the streets for the annual Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, UPMC Health Plan Half-Marathon and FedEx Ground Pittsburgh Relay events. If you haven’t already signed up, you might as well commit to spectator status. (There’s still time to register, but we don’t advise going into a race without the proper training.)

Because the courses go through more than a dozen neighborhoods, there are plenty of options for observing. Before deciding where you’ll take a seat, know that on Sunday there will be temporary road closures throughout the city.

There truly isn't a bad seat in the house. But if you're looking to make a day of it or become immersed in true-blue neighborhood culture, we've got a few recommended locales for viewing. Remember that your presence really does make the runners' day.

South Side

By the time marathon and half-marathon runners hit this section of the race, they're likely feeling a little tired. Lucky for them, hordes of smiling faces are there to greet them. If you want to multitask, grab a seat at your favorite Carson Street haunt with outdoor seating, bring a sign or other prop and cheer on the runners as you eat and sip. Depending on the spot you pick, you could be a stone's throw from one of the three acts playing for the crowd.


Got boundless energy and serious dance moves? The spectators in Homewood have been known to choreograph dances for relay and marathon runners and set up their own water stands. This neighborhood is fairly flat, a musical act will offer live entertainment and there should be plenty of room to squeeze in along the main drag. When you're feeling hungry — after all of that watching — you're within walking distance of some great East End restaurants.


The heart of College Town comes to life during section No. 2 of the marathon course — and good thing. Watch from the curb as noisemakers give runners a reason to keep moving. The diverse mix of locals may come together to dance, sing and chant to push forward participants, but they'll admit it's also a lot of fun.

West End

This spot's popular among the groups entertaining the crowd. Young thespians and musical acts will encourage runners kick it in gear up the slopes as West End residents pack in and shout words of encouragement. Leave time to check out the West End post-race, as there are some institutions worth checking out.


We couldn't overlook the place where it all begins and ends. See the droves start their scenic trip in the morning from Liberty Avenue, and head over to the Boulevard of the Allies later on as dashers start to cross the finish line. See all forms of merriment at the finish-line festival at Point State Park, where runners will rehydrate and decompress. The best part? You're close to a handful of brunch spots, where you can fully indulge.


Related: 7 Things You Need to Know about the Pittsburgh Marathon


Categories: The 412