SCRANTON — Despite the weather outside, thousands of area runners are thinking spring.
Organizers for Scranton’s first half marathon in more than a decade were surprised this weekend when their event sold out two months before race day.
Half marathons in Scranton date back to the early 1900’s. But, there hasn’t been one in the city in at least a decade.
So some area runners decided to bring it back, launching the Scranton Half Marathon scheduled for April.
Part of the course will use the Lackawanna heritage valley trail here in south Scranton. 2,500 runners will take part. And organizers say many of them are new to running:
There’s snapshot from a 1909 newspaper inside Scranton Running Company that shows the starting line for the first Scranton marathon. It wasn’t a true marathon, only 11 miles. But, to Matt Byrne who owns Scranton Running Company, it was the start of a tradition that lasts in the Electric City.
“I think we’ve always been a running town, I think consolidating and getting everybody together has finally happened maybe, I don’t know. I think there’s always been a lot of runners in the area,” Byrne said.
Byrne is the chair for the new Scranton Half Marathon scheduled for April 6th. It’s been more than a decade since the last half marathon was held in Scranton. It’s race that is half the distance of the normal 26.2 mile marathon.
Organizers have been surprised with the success of this year’s race. All 2,500 spots are filled two months before it starts.
The half marathon course stays within the city limits. It will take runners through five Scranton neighborhoods and use parts of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail.
Organizers told Newswatch 16 almost half of those registered runners are first time half marathoners.
“I’m pretty impressed to see that Northeast P.A. is saying, ‘I’m going to try this.’ and it didn’t take much other than putting it out in front of them and they’re taking on the challenge. That’s pretty neat to see,” Byrne added.
Kimberly Laboranti registered for the half marathon a few weeks ago. She said most of the buzz around the race has been by word of mouth and she has noticed it working the front desk at Uno Fitness on West Olive Street in Scranton. She thinks the ambitious but attainable 13.1 miles is good for the whole community.
“I think people who like running will now get involved in the community. And people who don’t enjoy running might be interested when they see it,” Laboranti said.
Scranton Half Marathon organizers told Newswatch 16 that proceeds from the race will be given to the Lackawanna River Heritage Valley Authority, which built and maintains the heritage trail.