Runners never know where the quest to run a marathon will take them. Those registered for the storied New York City Marathon likely didn’t envision that plans and dreams to run that marathon would lead to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. With the race dates a week apart and NYC cancelled, Harrisburg – a mere 3+-hour train ride from New York City – became an in-demand marathon to substitute for the finale of a summer and fall training season.
As a senior runner who writes about senior running adventures (and misadventures), I’m sure that the many runners in the 60+ age groups have their own stories to tell. Roughly 70 runners and walkers in those age groups made their way from Brazil, China, Canada and across the United States to NYC, then revamped their course to Harrisburg.
For runners of all ages, our well-kept small town marathon secret became one of the havens for runners from the Northeast United States and internationally. Like the good host or hostess who suddenly finds their guest list has doubled, the Harrisburg Marathon and Harrisburg Area YMCA set about ensuring that their expanded guest list would have shirts, medals, support on the course and food at the end of their marathon journey. Likewise, the influx of registrants post-NYC cancellation were the ideal guests, with compliments on our scenery, fresh air, friendly atmosphere and a well organized event.Their children were charmed by the chickens and horses housed in the barn on City Island, within a block of the race start line.
Those fortunate enough to land rooms in downtown hotels found the start and finish lines were roughly a 1/2 mile walk/jog across the Susquehanna River to City Island.
Runners originally expecting a marathon start at the Verrazano Bridge, were enjoying beautiful, slightly warm weather with a start on Harrisburg’s Market Street Bridge. A turn onto Front Street took them past historic buildings into downtown Harrisburg around the Capitol Complex, then treated them to our Greenbelt and Riverfront Park. They passed through city neighborhoods and a brief stint through an industrial road and the Harrisburg Area Community College campus. At the appropriate distances along the course, signs appeared indicating the 5 boroughs of New York City. The mostly flat, mostly scenic course surprised some out-of-town guests as they approached the hills in Wildwood Park. The final six miles brought them back down the river to City Island food and festivities.
As some of our guests hurried from the finish line to the next scheduled train back to NYC, they took with them some new-found friendships, an appreciation for this small town marathon and many of the age-group awards.
In the following days, Facebook and Twitter lit up with accolades for an unexpected journey to a fantastic marathon.
It was great to have you visit. Come back and see us again!
(Note: Photos in this post are miserably limited as I was off running a relay leg on the course, a topic for another post another day. You will find great photographs of participants and the course on the Marathon and facebook pages linked in this post.)
- Harrisburg Marathon Recap (sarabozich.com)
- Harrisburg Marathon runners, including spillover from canceled New York race, take off (pennlive.com)
- Harrisburg provides welcome alternative for New York City marathoners (pennlive.com)