The Pittsburgh Marathon accomplished an exciting goal this week.
This year, for the first time ever, the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 3 will have runners from every state. Since 2011, North Dakota has been the only state to not have a participant, but things will be different this year. VisitPittsburgh launched a social media campaign that encouraged North Dakota runners to enter to win a sponsored trip to the race.
Thirty-one-year-old Jeff Turning Heart of Washburn, N.D. was randomly selected as the winner. He will be running the half marathon as a training run to Fargo’s full marathon, which takes place a week after Pittsburgh’s. The marathon is organized by Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc.
"When I got the call that I won, I was both shocked and ecstatic," says Turning Heart. "I've never been to Pittsburgh, and I'm told that there's no better way to experience the city's transformation than by running the marathon."
VisitPittsburgh’s social media contest asked hypothetical runners to geo-tag their North Dakota locations to a Google map. The contest, which ran from April 10–20, attracted one dozen people.
"Pittsburgh's marathon has become one of the world's top 20 marathons, attracting runners locally, nationally and internationally," says Patrice Matamoros, P3R CEO. "For years, we've been missing running representation from North Dakota. Finally, with help from VisitPittsburgh, we can say that we have a runner representing every state in the union."
The DICK’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon is a huge economic boon for the city. Last year, it was estimated that the race generated $8.3 million in direct spending. Since 2011–2014, runners from 49 states have attended the race—and this year there’ll be 50.
"It's heartening to have every state represented in Pittsburgh's marathon," says Craig Davis, president and CEO, VisitPittsburgh. "We're delighted that Jeff Turning Heart will be able to experience our beautiful city. We're confident that when he tells his fellow runners about what a great marathon Pittsburgh puts on, other runners from North Dakota will want to participate next year."