Ten unique towns dot the 150-mile nature trail that stretches from Cumberland, Md. to Pittsburgh, and up to 800 runners will experience them all on the Great Allegheny Passage Relay this October.
Regular teams of eight and ultra teams of four will run the flat, vehicle-free trail over 48 hours. Teammates will take turns tackling the race's 24 legs, only stopping for brief breaks in the team's van that follows along the course. That means a single participant may run anywhere from 13 to 46 miles -- depending on team size -- over the duration of the race.
Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc, also known as P3R, the organization behind the Pittsburgh Marathon and a dozen other fitness initiatives in the area, devised the relay so that participants can take advantage of Allegheny Passage's lush vistas and rich history.
"They'll get to cross the Mason-Dixon Line. They'll top the intercontinental divide," said Bryan Perry, executive director of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, a coalition of seven trail organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania and Maryland. "They'll soar over three major rivers. They'll pass through four beautiful former railroad tunnels. And they'll also get to run through the deepest gorge in the state of Pennsylvania."
Organizers also note that runners can expect to push their physical limits.
"They're going to get a good experience as far as fitness goes," said P3R senior vice president of partnership Troy Schooley. "It's going to be a great accomplishment for them to finish in Pittsburgh after running 150 miles."
When teams cross the finish line, they'll enjoy a post-race party at the South Shore Riverfront Park. Craig Davis, president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh hopes they'll stick around for a bit and see what the city has to offer.
"There's a pretty good bet that a lot of the people who may run in the relay probably weren't in Pittsburgh before or haven't had exposure," he explains. "We know that once they come here, they're going to fall in love with the city, and they're going to come back and bring their family to experience what we have."
He says that the city could anticipate tens of thousands of dollars in tourism revenue from the runners, who will likely stay, eat and relax at local businesses.
"[The race] brings tremendous amounts of economic development, and it also brings exposure for the region, and these are things that money can't buy."
The first annual Great Allegheny Passage Relay will occur on Oct. 12 and 13, 2018. Find more information and register here.