PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It's known as the fastest race in Pittsburgh. Hundreds of runners will pack downtown Friday night for the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile.
The distance is only a mile, but the race is intense.
"It's a real drag race, up the final straightaway," former runner-up Jordan McNamara said, "and there's thousands of people. The energy is fantastic, the atmosphere is exciting, and it produces good performances for everyone involved."
McNamara, 27, from Seattle, Wash., has been the runner-up twice. This year, he wants the title.
"For 1 mile, I probably run 12 miles a day in training, just to prepare," he said. "It's like baking a cake. You got to be strong, but you also got to be able to sprint at the end. So a lot of sprints, but also a lot of strength work."
Heather Kampf from Minneapolis knows all about the training. She's a two-time defending champion of the Liberty Mile. She says a big part of gearing up is making sure her mind is ready to go.
"No matter how fast you are or how far you're running, at some point in every race, you're going to hurt," she said. "You need to have something prepared in your mind to kind of combat that and really pull through to the end."
In addition to the stiff competition, racers say this particular event is a lot of fun. They say the crowds lining the route are like no other. The cheers are incredible.
"It's, like, echoing off of everything, so it's really exciting just to, like, hear that energy," Kampf said. "And everyone that's raced in the waves leading up to ours just stick around and wait for the big fast races at the end, so it's really fun."
More than 1,000 runners are expected to take part this year.
The first heat kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. Runners will travel along Penn Avenue to 11th Street and then cross the finish line on Liberty Avenue.
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