People Who Run Downtown:
The Origin Story
People Who Run Downtown was started in Pittsburgh in 1986. The idea for the club came to Pittsburgh by way of Detroit, where co-founder Dale Schwab was on a job assignment in 1985. [Insert flashback sequence here.]
One Tuesday evening, Dale was out for a run on Belle Isle and encountered a group of about 50 runners. Assuming it was an organized group, Dale came to Belle Isle the next Tuesday night to join them, but found the trails empty. Lucky for us, the newspaper ran a story the next day that shed light on the mystery. The article described a running group that met at a different downtown restaurant every Tuesday night. So, the next week, Dale went to the group’s scheduled location and finally met up with the mystery running group. The group welcomed him, and Dale became a regular throughout his stay in the Motor City.
(If you’re curious, Detroit’s Downtown Runners and Walkers are still going strong!)
When he returned to Pittsburgh, Dale told fellow runner Jan Kerrigan about the Detroit group. They decided that this type of group was exactly what Pittsburgh needed. They contacted local restaurant owners, set up a schedule, and officially started the group.
The first run was in April of 1986 at Chuckers (R.I.P., Chuckers). They told the owner to expect 15-20 runners, and he laid out a spread of food to help kick off the group. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm crashed the party. The only runners were Dale, Jan, and Ron (Jan’s future husband). Fortunately, the restaurant owner was very understanding, and he even encouraged Dale and Jan to keep at it.
They did. And all these years later, we are still going strong. Membership is free, and each week we have around 20-30 runners and walkers at a variety of paces, so you’re sure to find someone your speed.