Great crowd support, supplies still plentiful even at the back of the pack. It was hilly but not nearly as bad as I had feared based on other reviews and the elevation chart. Diversity of the different neighborhoods was great. There were volunteer hill runners at the Oakland hill (around mile 12) which was really nice.
I'm slow anyway but I kept a pretty easy pace until after about mile 17. There is a fairly steep down hill section that lasts a mile .. around mile 23 which was far harder on my body than the up hills.
I stayed at Cambria hotel about .7 of a mile away from the start and .9 from the finish so that was helpful. Ate with a friend at the restaurant at the DoubleTree (about .4 from my hotel). We didn't partake but they had a pasta special going on for runners.
By EFC about 2017
I am from Pittsburgh so this was a must-run for me at some point in my life. However, I do not live here anymore and was not able to train as well as I would have liked to for the hills. If you are not from Pittsburgh, this race might not be on your bucket list. The second 13 miles are all hills. It is a very scenic and beautiful race, but it is definitely rough on your legs and I cannot imagine anyone getting a PR on this course. The volunteers are wonderful and so are all of the people who come out into the streets to watch and help the runners. If you are a Pittsburgh native, it is definitely a very special experience!!! But if you are from another city, you can probably find a different race somewhere else which will allow you to get a PR.
The second half is extremely hilly starting at mile 12 going up into Oakland. It is all hilly until Mile 24 aprox. when there is a sharp downhill. Then it is more or less flat the last two miles going into the downtown area of Pittsburgh. Weather could be just about anything during early May in Pittsburgh. They were calling for snow flurries the days leading up to the race this year, but on the day of the race, it ended up being about 40 in the morning and then warming up to about a perfect 50 something while running. It ended up being a gorgeous race day.
An extremely well-organized event from (pre) start to (post) finish! A great course that is challenging yet showcases the city of Pittsburgh. Good crowd support, excellent on-course amenities, a popular expo before and fun post-race atmosphere.
The course may have changed (is supposedly much flatter), but was rather hilly in 2015 which is great for providing variation but can also slow potential times. Be prepared for the hills (some of which come while crossing bridges). Train specifically for both up and downhills. It can also be warm this time of year so proper hydration and fueling are also key.
The start and finish are conveniently located right downtown which is a small(ish) and very walkable area.
By TAK about 2014
The race organization was great. The crowd and live bands along the course were a nice treat for runners.
There are some intense climbs. The first half I found to be more challenging that the second. Running over the bridges was a cool experience, but they provided for some of those inclines I was speaking of before.
Do not park downtown. Park on the outskirts (Station Square) and walk into town.
By JES about 2013
I've run the Pittsburgh marathon in 2002, 2009, 2013. Each time it has been well organized. The course is challenging but pretty flat for Pittsburgh. In 2013 I qualified for Boston at Pittsburgh with 5 minutes to spare so it is certainly doable on this course. Weather is usually good that time of year. One year was a bit warm, and light rain one year. But nothing you wouldn't expect on any race. The expo and organization have always been good. Good entertainment, good support from the crowds. Nice finishing area with the last few miles a gradual downhill which is always a plus. A big marathon but not huge.
You can run pretty even pace and effort at Pittsburgh. Get there early because the downtown is confusing to drive and lots of roads will be closed. Best parking areas are across the river by the football and baseball stadiums on the north shore. An easy mile walk or jog to the start from there. Mile 12 to 13 up Forbes Avenue into the Oakland area is the tough bit, a long gradual uphill.
You can stay at many downtown hotels. There are also a lot of hotels and restaurants in the Cranberry area (north on I-279/I-79). On a weekend morning that's a 20-25 minute drive to downtown. Best parking areas are across the river by the football and baseball stadiums on the north shore. An easy mile walk or jog to the start from there.