Healthwatch 16: Health and the Half Marathon

SCRANTON, Pa. -- A few weeks from now, the Scranton Half Marathon will be celebrating its fifth run around the city. Runners from 29 states and other countries will be taking part, and so will Geisinger Health System.

The countdown is on to the Scranton Half Marathon, this year on Sunday, April 8.

Race director Matthew Byrne is also the co-founder of the Scranton Running Company, a hub for the city's runners since 2010.

The idea for the half marathon was born a little more than five years ago.

"(Former Scranton Mayor) Chris Doherty walked in the door," Byrne recalled. "He said, 'We have to do a half marathon!' I said, 'I know, I know!' If there was anything the community was asking for it was a half marathon."

Byrne expects at least 2,500 runners from all over the country and even some from out of the country for the half, though he won't know a final number until registration closes a week before the race.

The 13.1-mile run takes participants through various parts of Scranton.

"I generally just knew I wanted to touch on each part of the neighborhood, and I wanted a good part of it to be on the trail," Byrne said.

A portion of the proceeds goes to the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Trail.

Dr. David Ross is a runner who has tackled the race in the past. He's also director of the sports medicine fellowship at Geisinger.

Geisinger is one of the sponsors of the Scranton Half Marathon.

"We'll have health care providers at the event, athletic trainers, and some of our other physicians will be there as well," Dr. Ross said.

Dr. Ross says, in general, he sees a fair amount of runners as patients, a lot of strains and sprains -- mainly from overuse.

"You have to get your muscles in tune. You can't just be a distance runner right away. You need to start preparing your body. If you don't, you'll lead yourself to injury," said Dr. Ross.

He won't be able to be part of the race this year but says Scranton is lucky to have it.

"It's nice. It's a great little half marathon. It's enjoyable."