Steamtown Marathon has new look amid pandemic

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FOREST CITY, SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Sunday would have marked the 25th annual Steamtown Marathon. The race was canceled due to the pandemic, but two men still made the journey from Forest City to Scranton.

The starting line for the Steamtown Marathon looked quite a bit different this year. The official marathon was cancelled but that didn’t stop Patrick O’Malley, who has run in the marathon since its first year. He says he is one of seven people that has completed the race every year.

“I didn’t want to let that streak go away on me so as soon as I heard that it was going to be cancelled, because you know I mean thousands of people that wouldn’t work. People’d get sick. But I wanted to make sure that I’d have the opportunity to come up here, be timed and get my 25th in. So to me that really matters. This is a big day for me,” O’Malley said.

That’s why at 8 a.m. Sunday morning O’Malley took off. He says this year is especially important as he is running in memory of all those who lost their lives to COVID-19 and to support essential workers.

“210,0000 people is a lot of people. I mean 60,000 people in Vietnam that died. We have absolutely incredibly surpassed that. And who knows what’s going to happen during flu season and our essential employees at work everyday,” O’Malley said.

An hour later, Father Jeff Walsh started his 16th year making his way through the 26-mile marathon route. But this time he was walking.

“I figured instead of a couple of thousand runners out on the streets, there’ll be one crazy priest and his dog walking between Forest City and Scranton,” Father Walsh, pastor of St. Rose of Lima and Our Lady of Mount Carmel of Carbondale said.

Walsh and his dog Sam are walking for a cause.

“I was really hoping that we could raise some money for our St. Rose restoration fund which has an $850,000 goal, and we’re at over $700,000 of that goal and this is a way to kind of help us across the finish line,” Father Walsh said.

Both Walsh and O’Malley are looking forward to next year’s race in full swing.

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