CARBONDALE, Pa. — The usual crowds and commotion that come with the Steamtown Marathon were nowhere to be found at Forest City Regional High School on what would have been the 25th anniversary of the race.
But that didn't stop a couple of athletes from braving the 26.2-mile course from Forest City to Scranton.
Fr. Jeff Walsh is one of them; he has run the Marathon six times. Despite the race cancelation, he decided to lace up his sneakers and walk the route accompanied for some of his journey by his dog Sam.
The pair is completing the marathon to raise money to restore the iconic steeple at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Carbondale.
They plan to raise about $13,000 for the project.
"Which has a fundraising goal of $850,000. We are at more than $700,000 of that goal. This is a way to help get us across the finish line, so to speak," Fr. Walsh said.
Patrick O'Malley has never missed a marathon Sunday, completing the course each year since the inaugural race.
"I'm running on behalf of the 210,000 people who lost their lives to COVID-19 and all our essential workers," he said.
O'Malley says we've all experienced rough patches since the pandemic began, and for him, the marathon will symbolize some of those hardships.
"The last eight miles are very tough for me. I'm good to about 16, but around 18, I start feeling a lot of pain," he added.
The 2021 race is already scheduled for October 10, 2021, but in the meantime, these guys were just trying to keep the Steamtown pride alive.
"I'm going to take photos every 15 minutes or so, just a selfie with something in the background so that people who tune in on our social media can look and be like, 'oh, that's where he is,'" Fr. Walsh said.