Lace up those sneakers
And Run Around Scranton
Matt Byrne knew Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty was up to something; he could tell by the twinkle in his eye. Doherty enlisted the help of Byrne (co-founder of The Scranton Running Company located in the Ice Box Sports Complex and three-time Steamtown Marathon winner) and Sandra Opshinsky (Parks programming event coordinator for the City of Scranton) to help him coordinate a new ongoing social event; an event that would help get people up and on their feet and moving throughout the streets of the Electric City. With only two weeks to plan the inaugural event, Run Around Scranton was born in January 2013 and has experienced a rapid growth spurt after only two chilly runs.
The runs take place on the third Thursday night of the month with the next Run Around Scranton event taking place Thursday, March 21 at Minooka Pub and Eatery, Birney Ave. in Scranton’s Minooka Section. Registration begins at 5 p.m. and the run begins at 6 p.m. The event is free and all are invited.
“Mayor Doherty talked this idea over with Byrne; the idea of focusing on health and wellness,” Opshinsky said. “We wanted people to get out and move. You don’t necessarily have to run; you can come out and walk. It’s the idea of getting out and having the run in various neighborhoods throughout the city to highlight what they have to offer. The host sites can be local businesses which some people who are coming to the race may have never visited these establishments. It gives them an opportunity see another portion of the city, meet people who they may have not met otherwise, and go to another place they may not have enjoyed otherwise.”
The runs carry a certain social aspect to them as well. Runners socialize during race registration and return to the host site for food and refreshments afterward. So far, the races have been hosted by pubs. “It’s all about going into each neighborhood and seeing what makes sense,” Byrne said. “We are looking for places that can hold a good amount of people, a place with a good vibe and a non-smoking environment.” Past Run Around Scranton locations include Bar Hill and Zaleski’s Clubhouse Cafe.
Run Around Scranton was created to encourage and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle while highlighting Scranton’s historic neighborhoods. Each run is carefully mapped out throughout the streets of the host neighborhood, keeping in mind landmark businesses and historic attractions, as well as new businesses that have chosen to make Scranton their home. The organization is taping segments to be featured on Scranton’s ECTV cable station leading up to the race, and highlighting businesses in the area in which they will be running. For the upcoming March run, they will be showcasing pieces on Minooka Pastry Shop, Minooka Subaru and The Minooka Pub. “We want to have that historical angle and show the flavor of these neighborhoods,” Byrne said.
Public reception for event has been nothing short of outstanding. During the first run on a cold January night in Scranton’s hill section, they hoped to attract 50 or so interested runners. Not only did 120 runners register from the start, some runners jumped in as the race went along, reminiscent of the running scene from Forrest Gump.
When asked who can participate in Run Around Scranton, Opshinsky said “Anyone. Whether they are running or walking.”
“We had runners finishing the course in 10 minutes (and some change) and people who walked,” Byrne said. “Neither one felt out of place. Run Around Scranton gives something to everyone. Some people are just starting a running program: people who haven’t jogged much in their life. It’s about camaraderie and motivation. It’s people getting together and getting healthy. As long as the message comes across that anyone can do this; to get the average Joe off of the couch and to get them to think, ‘maybe I can try this’.”
— tom graham
Run Around Scranton will take place on the third Thursday night of the month in various locations around the city limits. The next Run Around Scranton event is Thursday, March 21 at Minooka Pub and Eatery, Birney Ave. in Scranton’s Minooka Section. Registration begins at 5 p.m. and the run begins at 6 p.m. The event is free and participants receive a free t-shirt. For more information and upcoming race locations and events, visit www.facebook.com/RunAroundScranton.