Pittsburgh Marathon Organizers Introduce the Ultimate Trail Relay Challenge

Press release from ATRA corporate member Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. (P3R).

Running from Cumberland, Maryland to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Great Allegheny Passage Relay is inspired by the growing popularity of trail running.

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. (P3R) announced today that they will add another race to their growing number of events. The new Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail Relay will challenge relay teams of eight runners to tackle 24 legs of varying distances within a 48 hour period along the 150-mile trail from Cumberland, Maryland to Pittsburgh. The race is the first of its kind for western Pennsylvania and will provide an opportunity for runners to experience the trail in a unique way.

“Knowing that 48% of runners are always looking for a new event experiences, we are thrilled to add the GAP Trail Relay to our series of world-class events,” said Patrice Matamoros, P3R CEO. “An event of this nature is a massive undertaking and we look forward to partnering with the Allegheny Trail Alliance (ATA) and UPMC Health Plan to make it an exceptional event for runners, volunteers and all involved.”

P3R is excited that current partner UPMC Health Plan has signed a three-year contract to serve as the title sponsor for this granddaddy of relay races. The health insurance provider has been the title sponsor of the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon since 2011, so the corporate partner didn’t hesitate to expand their partnership with Pittsburgh’s premier race organization.

“UPMC Health Plan encourages everyone to live a more active and healthy lifestyle, and we’re very happy to continue our long-term partnership with P3R and welcome a unique race to the year-round calendar of events,” said Dr. Will Shrank, Chief Medical Officer for the UPMC Insurance Services Division. “The new GAP Trail Relay encourages a group of individuals to work together to reach a shared goal, which is similar to how UPMC Health Plan works with the entire region to bring health and vitality to Western Pennsylvania and beyond.”

The number of people participating in trail events has risen dramatically even though registration for traditional road races has declined in recent years. According to a 2016 National Running Survey, 29% of runners participated in a trail race sometime during the past two years and 33% of runners are interested in running a trail race in the future.

“Approximately 74% of runners said they are likely to travel overnight for a ‘runcation’ in the next year and we believe the GAP Trail Relay will become a destination event,” added Matamoros. “With the starting line being less than three hours from Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Morgantown, we anticipate the event will draw runners from throughout the region and beyond.”

According to Bryan Perry, Executive Director for the Allegheny Trail Alliance, running on the GAP trail is a wonderful way to enjoy the region. “The GAP soars over rivers and ravines and cuts through mountain tunnels, making a gently-graded, smooth journey through some of the most rugged, spectacular places in two states,” he explained. “Charming towns along the trail cater to travelers and will offer respite for runners awaiting their next leg.”

The Great Allegheny Passage through the Cumberland Narrows and next to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, Cumberland, Md — credit Doug Riegner.

Because the race will traverse almost the entire length of the 150-mile multiple use rail-trail system, P3R will work closely with six of the seven trail organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania and western Maryland that make up the ATA:

  • Mountain Maryland Trails, from Cumberland to the Mason-Dixon Line
  • Somerset County Rails to Trails Association, from the Mason-Dixon Line to Confluence
  • Ohiopyle State Park, from Confluence to Connellsville
  • Regional Trail Corporation, from Connellsville to McKeesport
  • Steel Valley Trail Council, from McKeesport to West Homestead
  • Friends of the Riverfront, from West Homestead to Pittsburgh

The inaugural GAP Trail Relay is scheduled for October 12-14, 2018. Participants will begin the relay in Cumberland, Maryland on Friday, October 12 and cross the finish line sometime on Saturday, October 13 before enjoying the post-race party at South Shore Riverfront Park. Each relay team member will receive a commemorative medal, long sleeve tech tee featuring custom artwork and swag bag including the trail’s official TrailGuide guidebook.

Registration for the first edition of the GAP Trail Relay is now open at www.gaptrailrelay.org. Proceeds from the race will help with the ongoing maintenance and improvements of the GAP trail, while introducing runners to the beauty of the region and potential for outdoor adventure.

Video of the announcement is available here, while additional GAP Trail Relay press materials can be found here. For further updates on the GAP Trail Relay, visit www.gaptrailrelay.org.

The Great Allegheny Passage crossing the Keystone Viaduct, Meyersdale, Pa — credit we are the richards.

About Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. (P3R)
P3R is a nonprofit organization that is passionate about promoting a love of running and enhancing community access to health & fitness education and activities. Best known for organizing the acclaimed annual DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, we also run a variety of other high-quality races, events, and health and fitness programs throughout the Pittsburgh region. While many of our races attract some of the nation’s highest-profile professional athletes, we offer activities for all ages and ability levels. The only criterion for participation is a desire to be happy, healthy and active! Read more at: P3R.org

About the Allegheny Trail Alliance (ATA)
Founded in 1995, ATA is a coalition of seven trail organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania and western Maryland that is charged with promoting and enhancing the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile multiple use rail-trail system between Cumberland, MD and Pittsburgh, PA and the 52-mile Montour Trail, to provide a connection to the Pittsburgh International Airport. Completed in 2013, The Passage is now connected to the 184.5 mile C&O Canal Towpath in Cumberland and provides a non-motorized, nearly level trail system between Washington, DC and Pittsburgh, PA. For more information on the Great Allegheny Passage and the Allegheny Trail Alliance, visit www.GAPtrail.org.