Feature: Pitt students complete marathon feat


Running a marathon isn’t something a person can just wake up and do. It’s considered one of the ultimate tests of the human body, and pushes mind, body and spirit to the brink. 

Pitt juniors Jared Disanti and Jake Kuhn found this out Sunday when they participated in the sixth-annual Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon for the first time.

“There’s no easy way to run 26.2 miles,” Disanti said.

The two teammates on Pitt’s Division II club ice hockey team had different reasons for running the marathon, which started and ended downtown. Kuhn was motivated by people close to him, while the competitive aspect of the race intrigued Disanti.

“Last year, my mom finished the half marathon, and my girlfriend Emily [Fagan] completed the full,” Kuhn said. “That motivated me to start training for this year.”

Instead of personal ties, being a part of the action — outside of his demanding athletic schedule — drove Disanti to sign up.

“I always wanted to do it for some reason,” Disanti said. “When you’re in college and you aren’t playing in a Division I sport, you don’t really get to compete in big-scale events.”

The two began training 12 weeks ago and adopted similar methods of preparation. 

Disanti said he would go on three small runs during the week, and he completed a long run on the weekend. 

“You can’t just go out and run a marathon,” Disanti said.

Kuhn had a similar training approach, varying distances by doing a short run, medium run, short run and then a long one on the weekends, too. 

Fagan, a Pitt senior, trained with Kuhn in the months leading up to her second marathon. With the long-distance intervals, she said the couple started out running 13 miles and worked up from there.  Their longest run prior to Sunday was 20 miles. 

It wasn’t just the distance that required training. The terrain of the course also called for acclimation.

“We ran a lot of hills. The toughest part of the marathon is around mile 11, a three-quarter mile uphill,” Fagan said. “Overall, the whole marathon is pretty hilly, so running a lot of hills really paid off on race day.”  

After months of preparation, Disanti and Kuhn were blown away by the environment of the marathon on race day.

“The number of people [who] come out early in the morning to support you and cheer you on, while 20,000 other people are running beside you, was just incredible,” Kuhn said.

Disanti said the surrounding atmosphere was “awesome.”

“When you get to the later portion of the race, you’re really just focusing on every step you take. But at the beginning of the race, you just get to soak [the environment] all in,” Disanti said. 

Kuhn, who was paced by Fagan, finished a second behind her with a net time of 4:15:27, good for a pace of 9:44 per mile. Disanti completed it later, posting a net time of 4:58:00, translating to a pace of 11:21 per mile.

Disanti and Kuhn were thankful to have each other’s support in the race, and advised any prospective runners to find support in compatriots.

“It’s just better to run with someone else,” said Kuhn. “It really pushes you to finish, and to help each other get through it.”

The teammates were hesitant about the idea of running another marathon after completing Pittsburgh’s. Kuhn said he would run it again with his mother if she decided to take up the challenge of a full marathon, but Disanti was not as willing to commit.

“I loved the experience. But I’m exhausted right now. So I just don’t know,” he said. “Ask me again in January. I might have a different answer.”