Running Lady, wherefore art thou?

Reader Jonathan emailed me asking me to get to the bottom of something, and as you know, here at That’s Church, we dig and dig until the bottom of shit is gotten to.

Jonathan wanted to know if I had any way of finding out what happened to the North Side’s famous “Running Lady” because he hadn’t seen her in a while — over a year.

And I emailed him back all, “What running lady?!  I’ve never heard of the running lady.  Should I capitalize Running Lady?  Where does she run?”

He linked me to YouTube and wouldn’t you know, there is a woman on the North Side who runs EVERYWHERE she goes.

YouTube Preview Image

YouTube Preview Image

Several things:

1. I think I love this woman.  I wonder if this is perhaps her fitness regimen?  Exercising at all times.  I’m impressed.

2.  Two summers ago, my sisters and I took all of the kids, all 409 of them (it seems), to the Pittsburgh Zoo and after chasing a flock (gaggle? pride?) of children from the monkeys (where I swear one of the mama monkeys wanted to steal my baby) to the bears who were of course engaged in a raucous game of Sleep, Ta-Ta the Giant-Breasted Poobah/Stacey said, “Why do kids run EVERYWHERE?”

Pens Fan/Tammy replied, “I don’t know, but man, how skinny and in shape would we be if we ran everywhere?”

And us sisters looked at each other all [LIGHTBULB!!!!] and we tried it.  We ran everywhere we went in the zoo. For about two minutes and then we gave up on that, because not only is that some exhausting shit, boy, will people look at you like you’re a couple french fries short of a steak salad.

3.  Has anyone seen the Running Lady lately?  Jonathan is worried and now that I know of her existence, I would too like to know if she’s okay.

Let’s get to the bottom of this, Burghers.

If she’s ill, I’m going to take up a get-well card collection.  I have 409 youngsters that will literally run all over the city picking them up from you and delivering them to wherever she rests.

And they won’t break a sweat.

Arrogant little endlessly-energetic brats carelessly flinging their youth in our faces.

[shakes cute little old fist and pops a butterscotch in her mouth and thinks about taking a nap]





88 Comments


  1. PittinDC
    November 10, 2009 6:58 pm

    @Annie – that guy is crazy, but seems awesome! He clearly must stick to Penn Quarter – I’ve never seen him around the Hill or in the West End.



  2. Beth
    November 10, 2009 7:35 pm

    OMG! I totally forgot about Lansbury. “Why can’t Lansbury get his mail? ” How about the lady in the 80’s who prophecied the end of the world? Every year her prediction would change. “War in 86.” Next year it was, “War in 87”. Does anyone remember the voo-doo lady with the safety pin through her nose? She was also an 80’s gem.



  3. Danielle
    November 10, 2009 7:43 pm

    OMG – I thought I was the only person who ever noticed her. I used to see her daily running across the Smithfield Street bridge.



  4. whitehall l33t
    November 10, 2009 7:47 pm

    The running lady is known as “Crazy Legs” over in Whitehall. She has been running my parents neighborhood for years… she would zig zag across the street, didn’t care about traffic, and she was notorious. She got into it with some of the neighborhood kids and yelled at my grandfather. Supposedly she has a heart condition and must exercise to keep it in check. My question is.. has she ever heard of a tread mill?? I see her most Sunday mornings running down Baptist when I am on my way to church…and I am at a loss about her. The urban legend keeps growing, including stories of her running on the bus on her way down to town. And ya, she lives in some townhouses off of Provost.. she has been known to run back and forth in the intersection of her street and Provost. Tim Benz over on WXDX ran alot of stories about her and took alot of calls… maybe he has some insight too!



  5. TexterB
    November 10, 2009 7:48 pm

    I used to see her running to cross the street on the Blvd of the Allies near the Point. I thought she was always running to catch a bus!



  6. Clementine
    November 10, 2009 8:04 pm

    OMG!! Running Lady! Wherefore art thou, Running Lady?

    We would see her on the Blvd of the Allies and sometimes on Smithfield. Rumor was she worked at the Hilton. She would make little loops at the intersection until the light changed and then she’d be OFF, like a gazelle in a business suit! I’m guessing she doesn’t run for her health, but as a symptom of OCD.

    I love that Norm considered it good luck to see her, so did we…

    God Bless, Running Lady!



  7. Clementine
    November 10, 2009 8:25 pm

    This youtuber wins for adding a soundtrack — and she speaks!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNBSfmog4B0



  8. summer78
    November 10, 2009 8:36 pm

    Just showed this to my husband and her saw her about a week or two ago by the USA Gas on Provost. He says she was doing her hobly run down the hill.



  9. Woy
    November 10, 2009 8:45 pm

    It should be said that part of WearPittsburgh’s reboot will involve a t-shirt in dedication of the Running Lady.

    Watch for it for the holidays!



  10. YayaLaura
    November 10, 2009 9:07 pm

    I used to see her running up Forbes Ave in Market Square from Stanwix towards Wood around 8 AM every couple of days. But now that it’s been mentioned I didn’t see her all summer and I guess with all the consturction that has been a deterrent as well.



  11. Lee
    November 10, 2009 9:36 pm

    I used to see her downtown near the Hilton all the time; I heard she worked there. Maybe she quir because she never got paid??
    My friend and I once saw her at CVS buying HUGE amounts of candy. And no, it wasn’t around Halloween or any other candy-driven holiday. Maybe she has a huge sugar addiction and runs to work it all off?



  12. Amy
    November 10, 2009 9:41 pm

    I am fairly certain I saw her earlier this year – she will do laps back and forth in front of the Station Square T-Station, as well as laps around the United Way building. I always figured that she was killing time before her bus came, but so many pieces of the puzzle are falling together.

    Way to solve what I think a lot of us though was our own personal mystery!



  13. Jessica
    November 10, 2009 11:06 pm

    I promise you I just saw her maybe two weeks ago. On Provost, trucking it up the hill. It was in the early afternoon around 2:30. I’ve seen her a few times in the past month or two because I take that route to work.

    If I see her again I’ll be pretty tempted to stop and chat now. I didn’t realize she was such a “pgh legend.”



  14. Sooska
    November 10, 2009 11:37 pm

    @Beth and Rob- Lansbury! what a Legend! he was everywhere and never got his mail.

    Does anyone remember the girl downtown who had a chain hanging form her nose? When she ate an ice cream cone the chain dangled in the ice cream. EW.

    How about the poor guy who used to throw scraps of paper at women’s feet as they walked by him. I used to see him near the Clark Bldg but he was all over.

    Finally I never saw the aforementioned Running Lady, but we Eastern Suburbs types have our own version. I would leave for work in the morning and return at 5 or so and see this sickly blond running on both ends of the day. Don’t see her as often these days but she is around. She is obsessively skin and bones and occasionally disappears only to turn up later with a cast, hobbling, or on a bike, but still seeking her endorphins.



  15. ej
    November 11, 2009 12:20 am

    conspiracy theory,…she might have dystonia people that have it can run and be normal, but are neurologically challenged when they stop http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEN5KGwNGeo



  16. Matt H
    November 11, 2009 12:21 am

    OK this is awesome!

    Has anyone seen the heavy set guy who is always wearing a a head sweat band and matching wrist sweat bands? He runs back and forth on the Smithfield Street bridge like everyday. He also has a walkman I think.

    He has the most awkward walking/running gait I have ever seen.

    Please tell me someone else has seen him.



  17. munkspot
    November 11, 2009 1:15 am

    Did I hear WearPittsburgh reboot?



  18. bucdaddy
    November 11, 2009 1:15 am

    Thanks for nothing, Rob and Beth. First I wanted to be the one to mention Lansbury, but Rob beats me to that. Then I want to ask “Why CAN’T Lansbury get mail?” but Beth cuts me off at the knees.

    F*** y’all for Tiger Paul and Radio Rich. Towns don’t have enough real characters anymore, edgy sorts who the rest of us watch out for and sorta take care of. In my town it was Yup-Yup, but Henry died a couple years ago.

    And now that you mention it, I haven’t seen the 300-pound guy with the cane and the pith helmet who used to amble along the sidewalks here for awhile.

    Uh-oh …



  19. Jonathan
    November 11, 2009 8:20 am

    Whew! Thank you all for your insights regarding the Running Lady. It sounds strange, but I actually was worried about her as I’ve not seen her in about a year. I would always see her running down Smithfield towards the Boulevard at the same time each day. I heard she used to work at PPG, had a break-down and started running everywhere she went. Not sure if this is true, but there it is… Thanks again, everyone!



  20. Monsterquads
    November 11, 2009 9:18 am

    So what’s the update? Do we know anything more on who this woman is and why she runs? Ginny?



  21. Virginia
    November 11, 2009 9:23 am

    Yes, I now know who she is. I’m working to get more details before I post.



  22. Loopy
    November 11, 2009 12:10 pm

    This topic is one of those “always wanted to know but was afraid to ask”. But I never new who to ask. This is obviously the place.



  23. JennyMoon
    November 11, 2009 1:49 pm

    I’ve seen the running lady because my in-laws live in the South Hills so we take Provost. My husband and I both started to laugh when we saw her and then we both were like “we suck – she’s twice our age and could beat us in a race up that hill”. I also remember the bird lady when I went to school downtown back in 88-89. It seemed like she always found me and we would run away from her. However, does anyone else drive 28 and know about the guy who walked his dog every day past the 31st St. Bridge? He walked a rottweiler for years and then I think it died and he started walking a german shepherd puppy. I always wanted to yell out the window “my condolences to your rottweiler”. It was nice to see them walking while sitting in traffic.



  24. James
    November 11, 2009 2:25 pm

    I would always see her running around my neighborhood when I was growing up (in Bethel Park). However, I go to school in Dayton now, so I wouldn’t know if she was still running.

    I hope she’s well!



  25. GroovyPghChick
    November 11, 2009 2:31 pm

    Parkingchair and unsatisfied–I totally remember the Sparrow Lady!! I attended Point Park (back when it was a College) and she was alway roaming around near “campus”. She would tell us about the miracle and the spririts and basically scare the bejesus out of us. Ahhhh-memories.



  26. Kristie
    November 11, 2009 5:29 pm

    Tardy to the party but, Crazy Legs aka Running Lady is alive & well in Whitehall. She lives in the townhouses on Provost. Word on the 46B bus is that she lost her job last year, that’s why she hasn’t been spotted downtown. I still see her from time to time, but she seems to walk more now.



  27. Caryn W
    November 11, 2009 5:58 pm

    I do not know running lady (I feel so out of the loop!) even though I work downtown, but I remember the Bird Lady well. She was the same woman who predicted the end of the world. I could be faulty on this, but I recall an article years ago (in the PG?) about some of the infamous street types and she was profiled. My memory may be off but I recall the article saying she was not really homeless but had a family that cared for her. She had a compulsion (OCD?) to tell people about the end of the world, so they would escort her, walking behind her. Course, that could be a story someone told me and I thought it was touching….and my memory is playing tricks on me and turning it into a newspaper article. Sucks getting old!

    On another note, I was happy to hear recently that a homeless man who “lived” outside my building for years and had mental illness has received treatment and is in housing now, thanks to the help of the program that provides medical assistance to the homeless. I used to buy him orange juice and breakfast quite often. Nice man, but in a sad state then.



  28. TLynne
    November 11, 2009 7:08 pm

    She is alive! I saw her running on my way to work this morning. She usually comes out of her street every morning around 8am, which is right off of Provost. From what I am told, she had a break down, due to a death in her family and no longer works in town.



  29. whitehall l33t
    November 11, 2009 11:37 pm

    The local story was that she lived with her mom.. so if it is true that someone died, then that might of been her. Wonder if that was the similar looking, but like 70 yo woman that I used to see at the gym….

    Regardless, I am really, and probably overly, excited to see what the real story is. Like I have said on here and on Twitter, she has been a part of my parent’s neighborhood for years… and you always had to wonder, what the heck was going on in that head of hers. So thanks to Jonathan and Virginia for doing this!



  30. MonsterQuads
    November 12, 2009 11:53 am

    whitehall,
    ME TOO! I can’t wait to find out the story behind this woman. I find her oddly fascinating. Patiently waiting….



  31. SusanV
    November 12, 2009 2:47 pm

    I’m back visiting the comments to see if there are any new details. I’m completely intrigued!



  32. Beth
    November 12, 2009 4:07 pm

    If you are referring to the woman who was a member of Champion on 51 I don’t believe it is the same person. Looks very similar but that woman is much taller than the one in the video.



  33. Nick
    November 13, 2009 5:42 pm

    I miss the Running Lady



  34. Pingback: That's Church » Update on the Running Lady

  35. Whitney
    January 20, 2010 6:34 pm

    I think the Running Lady is from Whitehall, there’s a you tube video of her running on Provost (to & from the bus), which is a pretty steep hill.



  36. Guy R
    February 4, 2010 9:41 pm

    So is she still around? I have not seen her for a couple of years.



  37. John
    May 15, 2011 4:22 am

    @ Beth — I do remember the voodoo lady well. I often wondered what ever happened to her. I do think I read that the end-of-the-world prophecy lady passed away a few years back. Bob Lansberry died in 1999. There is lots of stuff online about him, including this documentary: http://www.vimeo.com/6162572



  38. Florence
    October 10, 2011 2:11 pm

    Her name is Amy and she lives in Whitehall and works at the Caste Village Giant Eagle. Amy still runs back and forth to work….is alive and well.