PITTSBURGH – Before Craig Leon competes for a podium finish at the 2017 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, he will correspond with students from Chartiers Valley Intermediate School (Chartiers Valley School District) and The Open Door, a youth outreach center in Pittsburgh’s West End. The students, who are participating in the award-winning Kids of STEEL program, are training for the Toyota Pittsburgh Kids Marathon on Sat., May 6.
For the two months leading up to the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events, Leon and the students will correspond about their training. The pen pals will have the opportunity to meet race weekend at a picnic at Point State Park. The day before his race, Leon, 32, will also run with his pen pals during the Toyota Pittsburgh Kids Marathon.
“I hope that I am able to impart two key lessons to the kids who are training for the Toyota Pittsburgh Kids Marathon: first, the importance of setting a goal and making an actionable plan to reach it, and second, that running can be a lifelong sport and doing so can lead to improved health over the course of their lives,” said Leon, who lives in Eugene, Oregon.
With a personal record of 2 hours, 13 minutes, 52 seconds in the marathon (Chicago 2013), Leon has had several impressive top-10 marathon finishes in his career including the 2013 Boston Marathon (10th, 2:14:38) and 2015 Pan American Games Marathon (5th, 2:19:34). The Team Run Eugene athlete balances his professional running with a full-time job as a MBA Program Manager for the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. His goal is a top three finish at the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon in May.
“My goal for the 2017 Pittsburgh Marathon is to be on the podium and compete for the win,” Leon said. “Marathons are tough to win - there are a lot of very talented runners from all parts of the world. I believe that if I run my best on May 7, I will have a chance to follow in the footsteps of Jeffrey Eggleston and Clara Santucci - both past American winners of the Pittsburgh Marathon.”
P3R’s Kids of STEEL Pen Pal Program is designed to give elementary schools the opportunity to pen letters to accomplished runner and communicate back-and-forth during the two months leading up to the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events. More than 300 students have had the opportunity to write to a professional athlete since the project started in 2014.
For more information on the program, go to: thepittsburghmarathon.com/KidsOfSteel
P3R is a nonprofit organization that is passionate about promoting the love of running and enhancing community access to health & fitness education and activities. Best known for organizing the acclaimed annual DSG Pittsburgh Marathon, we also run a variety of other high-quality races, events and health & 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! Learn more at: www.P3R.org