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]


  1. Matt
    November 10, 2009 1:02 pm

    She used to run around Downtown, too. I always saw her on Stanwix and Boulevard of the Allies.

  2. James K
    November 10, 2009 1:08 pm

    I work on the North Shore and we have all commented how she has been MIA this summer. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything else about her, but she was a regular for quite a while, so hopefully she just changed jobs and someone from another side of town now gets to see her!

  3. Carpetbagger
    November 10, 2009 1:19 pm

    Am I the only one who wants to see those videos in slow motion with Chariots of Fire music underneath?

    Run, Running Lady. Run like the wind!

  4. Jessica
    November 10, 2009 1:20 pm

    I can’t believe you didn’t know who she was! My husband works on the North Shore and used to see her all the time. Maybe she is injured? No running allowed?

  5. Virginia
    November 10, 2009 1:23 pm


    I was surprised, too! I know the Running Man, who runs everywhere downtown. Little Italian-type man. But I’ve never even SEEN the Running Lady. I’m disappointed in me.

  6. amanda
    November 10, 2009 1:29 pm

    She lives in the south hills… I have not spotted her in some time, but I wish her well. Always was curious about why all of the running.

  7. Elle C.
    November 10, 2009 1:31 pm

    This lady is not only on the North Side, I would often see her running downtown down Blvd. of the Allies, Stanwix, etc. near my building on Market. My co-workers and I also called her ‘Running Lady’ and she was always dressed in non-running clothing, like a dress or a skirt. Oddly enough, we have not seen her in a while…

  8. pghgeorge
    November 10, 2009 1:36 pm

    “I just felt like running.” Forrest Gump

  9. Sheila
    November 10, 2009 1:36 pm

    I was thinking a month or so ago that I hadn’t seen her in some time. There was a PG article about her years ago wondering who she was, and now a myspace page, but as far as I know she has remained elusive for many years.

  10. pghgeorge
    November 10, 2009 1:37 pm

    Maybe she got taxed.

  11. bluzdude
    November 10, 2009 1:38 pm

    2. The little children run like they do because the CAN. Plus, they’re actually made out of rubber bands and tennis balls.

  12. I am not Janelle Hall
    November 10, 2009 1:52 pm

    Now that you bring it to my attention, it really has been a long time! Used to see her regularly around Smithfield Street/The Blvd. Darn…

  13. red pen mama
    November 10, 2009 1:52 pm

    What bluzdude said.

    I say let’s put our daughters in heels now, so they will be able to be female action adventure stars when they grow up.


    PS I am utterly unfamiliar with Running Lady.

  14. Burgh Baby
    November 10, 2009 2:10 pm

    I’m sad for you that you didn’t know about her before. A highlight of my commute used to be seeing her doing her thang in the South Hills.

    FWIW, she has a MySpace page (, but it doesn’t look like anyone has seen her for a while. :-(

  15. parkingchair
    November 10, 2009 2:11 pm

    Not to hijack this thread, but I’ve often wondered what happened to the “Did you hear about the miracle at the art school?” lady who always walked around downtown in the late 80’s and early-to-mid 90s. I think some people called her the Sparrow Lady(?). Now that was a Pittsburgh treasure!

  16. Monty
    November 10, 2009 2:16 pm

    She sort of looks like a waitress from George Aiken’s.

  17. Kristy
    November 10, 2009 2:18 pm

    Ah! I used to see her EVERY MORNING around 630am but it was at the intersection of Provost and Weyman Roads right by Rt 51 in the South Hills. She used to run up and down Provost while waiting for the bus. I took video of her on my cell phone b/c she was such a mystery. Someone once told me she was a cancer survivor and running to stay healthy but I have NO idea if that’s true. My work shift changed so I haven’t seen her in about two years.

  18. Alyia
    November 10, 2009 2:23 pm

    I had no idea that others had noticed Running Lady– and how funny is it that we all call her the same thing? (I’ll admit that some around me referred to her as CRAZY Running Lady.)

    Hope she’s okay!

  19. Susan Vandervort
    November 10, 2009 2:27 pm

    Did anyone else laugh at the comments on the crazyrunninglady myspace?!

    I am unfamiliar with the Running Lady, until today. I really hope we can get to the bottom of this one!

  20. irish burgher
    November 10, 2009 2:31 pm

    She lives up Provost Road in Whitehall, or at least I use to see her waiting for the bus there from time to time…while waiting on the bus she would even run in place. I honestly had reached the point where I thought EVERYONE knew who she was.

    I have been living in Ireland for over a year now, and I recently enough got a text from my aunt (like late September) claiming she saw the running lady WALKING on Provost and was concerned…perhaps she is retired from both running and whatever brought her to town?

  21. unsatisfied
    November 10, 2009 2:33 pm

    @ parking chair — I totally remember that woman — but, my buds and I called her “the bird lady”. I haven’t seen her since the late 80s, when she was walking around the three rivers stadium parking lots before one of those nasty pirates/mets (“muck the fets!”) games (back when the pirates meant something around here).

    I’ve often wondered whatever happened to her. perhaps she started running and…..

  22. Norm
    November 10, 2009 2:40 pm

    She is a legend. I used to see here everyday when I lived on the north side. On the bridge or near that spot where those videos were shot.

    I always consider it good luck to see her in person. As in, your gonna have an awesome day if you do.

    My friends and I would see her carrying mail. Could be part of senior foot messenger service.

    I heard a story once that she was running near AiP and crisscrossing up and down the street. Until a bus showed up (I forget what one) and in stride she ran right on to the bus like nobody’s business.

  23. mfj
    November 10, 2009 2:41 pm

    I’ve seen the running lady on Provost Road also. Didn’t realize she was a regional phenomenon. I just hope nobody gave her a pair of scissors.

  24. Bobbo
    November 10, 2009 2:41 pm

    At 409 kids, you still don’t have as many as Wendy Bell, Peggy Finnegan and Jennifer Antkowiak.

  25. summer78
    November 10, 2009 2:42 pm

    I used to see her on Provost but it has been FOREVER.

  26. houndogg
    November 10, 2009 2:45 pm

    i’m with norm. i used to work on the northside and saw her all the time criss-crossing across the bridge walkway carrying mail of some sort. hope she is well!

  27. Monsterquads
    November 10, 2009 2:54 pm

    I used to see her running on Weyman road, off of Rte. 51. She would run up side streets, come back down, and continue up the road. She would wear a skirt, a jacket that went down to her knees, non-running shoes and those big black sunglasses. I so wanted to pull over and ask her what the heck was up with all the running, but I never did. One time while sitting in traffic a guy in a p/u truck yelled something at her. It was probably something rude–he just looked the type. Haven’t seen her in probably about a year. Hope she’s OK. I think she was a little nuts though. But who isn’t. Huh.

  28. Rob
    November 10, 2009 2:58 pm

    I think all the street people from my time as a Pgh. Paramedic are dead. Lansbury, Rocky, the cat lady, Joe… Haven’t heard about the Bird Lady, but I’d bet she’s gone. Street people don’t have long half-lives…

    I don’t recognize the running lady, but I’m on my IPhone right now. Someone from one of Pgh’s running clubs might know about her.

  29. Jared
    November 10, 2009 3:07 pm

    speaking of interesting people who’ve disappeared, has anyone seen “Sombrero Man” in Oakland recently? He used to wear a poncho, sombrero, and hold a pair of maracas. This was probably about 5 or 6 years ago.

  30. miso_soup
    November 10, 2009 3:12 pm

    Go running lady! She looks awesome. I’ve never seen her, but then I’m new to Pittsburgh. I’ll keep my eyes open.

    On a related note, the city I used to live in had it’s own local legend: ‘leather thong man’. I don’t suppose I can provide You Tube footage of this, nor do I suppose you’d want to see it even if I could.

  31. Ted
    November 10, 2009 3:16 pm

    My Buddy (who took the second video you linked) used to keep me updated on the running lady, but now we both work downtown, and even though I park on the North Shore, I’ve never seen her either.

  32. Loopy
    November 10, 2009 3:52 pm

    Last time I saw her she was running at Caste Village, it was maybe a month ago.
    I drive to work down Provost and ALWAYS see her running. I havn’t seen her in awhile. Didn;t know she was that regional. I thought she was just around the south hills.

    On another note there was a old man with jeans and suspenders who walked like he had a bad hip or two different length legs. I used to see him walking in the Munhall/Homestead area around the ’90s. Then about a decade later I saw him was walking down Brownsville in the south hills.

  33. PittinDC
    November 10, 2009 3:58 pm

    Here’s my question: if Running Lady has been spotted near Provost and Weyman, is there any way she is related to Midnight Jogger? Because really, that might be the most amazing thing ever. Also, I need to move back to Pittsburgh. The only thing DC has are the protestors that move around and protest different companies and take the big giant rat balloon with them everywhere they go.

  34. Annie
    November 10, 2009 4:04 pm

    I disagree with PittinDC. We have the guy who jumps and spins through the intersections downtown in his workout gear, listening to headphones. That guy always brightens my day.

    video evidence:

  35. Monsterquads
    November 10, 2009 4:10 pm

    We should introduce exercise man to running lady and see what happens. Worlds collide?

  36. Kristy
    November 10, 2009 4:11 pm

    Okay so I asked around and it sounds like she definitely lives in Whitehall somewhere off of Provost. So maybe just call the Whitehall PD and see if they know? Or the municipal building?

  37. Ferd
    November 10, 2009 4:22 pm

    I think pghgeorge is on to something. She got zapped with a giant Lukey Ravenstahl “running tax,” and said the hell with it.

  38. butcher's dog
    November 10, 2009 4:29 pm

    Virginia calls and ‘burgers respond. Just goes to show how you rock our world, my love.

    As for the kids, Mark Twain had it right. “Youth is wasted on the young.”

  39. LH
    November 10, 2009 4:39 pm

    @Jared- I totally remember sombrero man. He was awesome! And he was there about 10 years ago when I was in school at Pitt.

  40. Sean
    November 10, 2009 4:45 pm

    I used to live in Whitehall and saw her very frequently running on Brownsville road. That would have been in ’07-’08.

  41. Julie
    November 10, 2009 4:47 pm

    Loopy – I think I remember the man you speak of…I used to often see him while driving down Lebanon Road (also known as 837 coming from century III mall)…haven’t seen him in probably ten years though…

  42. MM
    November 10, 2009 5:02 pm

    reminds me of Six-pack Sally” from Lawrenceville. called that not for her wonderful abs but because she roller her hair in beer cans.

  43. Bluetail
    November 10, 2009 5:17 pm

    i took the liberty of forwarding today’s blog about the Running Lady to Diana Nelson Jones at the Post Gazette, as it sounds like a story she could (pardon me) run with.

  44. Jodi
    November 10, 2009 5:38 pm

    I haven’t seen running lady for a while, but I’m pretty sure she lives off of Brownsville Road near Brentwood. There’s a small housing complex and I’ve seen her running out of the entrance several times. I, too, love this lady. I’ll keep an eye out for her.

  45. Pensgirl
    November 10, 2009 5:54 pm

    Not to detract from Running Lady, but regarding Sombrero Man – I saw him last Fall (2008) when I was in Oakland a couple of times. But I live out-of-state so I can’t give a report any more current than that.

  46. cheld
    November 10, 2009 6:07 pm

    i have seen running lady on provost road and other streets in whitehall. always thought there was something strange about her or she was sick. we haven’t seen her in awhile, that’s amazing that she is know all over the burgh….. go running lady!!!!

  47. Paul
    November 10, 2009 6:08 pm

    Not to take attention away from this woman, but it reminds me of the sombrero man that used to be in Oakland ALL THE TIME, walking around, shaking his maracas and asking for change. Has anyone seen him lately? What is happening to all of these Pittsburgh residents!?!?!?

  48. Paul
    November 10, 2009 6:09 pm

    oh…never mind, just saw that there was something of an answer to that right above my comment.

  49. avisualtinkle
    November 10, 2009 6:21 pm

    I remember sombrero man from my days at pitt. I remember a rumor that some one mugged him and stole the sombrero so the forbes ave gutter punks chased the perp down, beat him up, and brought back the sombrero.

  50. cmd_45
    November 10, 2009 6:54 pm

    Maybe the business attire because there are no phone booths in which to change any more?