Over delivering: Patrice Matamoros breathes new life into the Pittsburgh Marathon

In 2003, the Pittsburgh Marathon lost its title sponsorship. The city of Pittsburgh seemed to be heading into bankruptcy, and the city services used to support the event couldn’t be provided without payment. So, the marathon was canceled.

Fast forward five years: Patrice Matamoros, executive director of Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon Inc., stepped up to the challenge of resurrecting the event.

“From the announcement date of the marathon until the first running of the new marathon, I had less than a year to raise about $1 million between sponsors and runners,” she says.

She used her own credit cards and worked on her own computer in a cubicle that was donated by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

A friend — their kids went to school together — started helping out with the understanding that they wouldn’t get paid at first.

“Nobody at that time was as committed as I was, based on the fact that I knew that I would bring the money in,” Matamoros says.

After about five or six months, the first two sponsorship checks came in, and she was able to pay her volunteers, bringing them on as independent contractors.

By the time the 2009 race came around, 10,500 runners had registered and 2,500 volunteers had been recruited.

“It was really just pulling the resources together and being as smart as I could about the resources that I had at hand, and what things I could leverage to continue building what I needed to build,” she says.

“I was really lucky. I had a good network of friends and I had done fundraising before, so I knew where to plug into.”