FELL TOWNSHIP – Last weekend’s 26.2 mile Steamtown Marathon didn’t just pose a challenge for the thousands of runners, one couple in Lackawanna County claims the road closures trapped them in Simpson for a couple hours with no way out.
When Carolyn Ryan and her husband stepped out of their home in Simpson Sunday to head to a family wedding, they ran into a big problem at the intersection of Route 171. Volunteers were blocking the road for a few thousand runners about to go by for the Steamtown Marathon.
“She said ‘I don’t know what to tell you, it’s the marathon.’ I said ‘well, we have to get out of here and there’s no other way out of here.’ You have to hit 171 from any way you leave these few blocks,” said Carolyn Ryan of Simpson.
“There was no signage, nobody knew what was going on and when I wanted to leave they wouldn’t let me leave. Even when there was a break in the runners,” said Stephen Ryan.
Bridge construction is what Steamtown Marathon Director Bill King says contributed to the clogged up area along the route, the same route runners have taken for 18 years.
“We tried to pre-plan with it by meeting with PennDOT and the subcontractors to come up with a game plan for addressing it but unfortunately it did cause an issue for a few people and for that I apologize,” King said.
But the Ryans say what volunteers did next upset them even more.
“They had one guy stand in front of us, one guy stand behind us and two volunteers blocked the open road on Jefferson, held us against our will for over 50 minutes,” said Ryan.
After being stuck on one side of the bridge in Simpson for several hours during the Steamtown Marathon the Ryans say they’re fighting so it hopefully never happens again.
“Life doesn’t stop because of the Steamtown Marathon, there’s still church, medicine, weddings, etc.,” said Ryan.
“They need to follow the law is all they need to do. I’ve been held up, I didn’t mind being held up 10,15 minutes, being held up an hour and 45 minutes, yeah that was very upsetting,” said Ryan.
State police say the Ryan’s have filed a complaint saying they were held against their will. Troopers cannot comment any further due to an internal investigation.
Race officials say they too are looking into the situation.
“Being aware of this now obviously we’re going to take a look at what exactly happened, what we can do to ameliorate that problem moving forward,” said King.