HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Parts of the city shut down Sunday as roughly 1,100 runners took on a new course for the annual Boston-qualifying Harrisburg Marathon.
Fred Joslyn, 31, of Mt. Holly Springs, Cumberland County, crossed the finish first, clocking in at two hours, 30 minutes, 43.71 seconds (2:30:43.71), a pace of 5:45 per mile.
“It’s because the crowd carried me through,” he said. “I mean, that really does give you a lift.”
His wife, 30-year-old Shelby, finished first among female competitors, running at a 7:17/mile pace, crossing the downtown finish line in a little more than three hours (3:10:57.73).
The 26.2-mile race, which started at 8 a.m., took competitors across the Market Street Bridge to the West Shore, back across the Harvey Taylor Bridge, and along the Harrisburg side of the river before ending on 2nd Street downtown.
It was the first year for the new route meant to integrate more of the city.
“We really want to bring the city out to really celebrate the runners, the spectators, and to create that party atmosphere that people really associate with Boston,” YMCA marketing director Rosie Turner said.
Organizers want runners to see this race as a “mini-Boston.” It is, after all, a Boston Marathon qualifier. In past years, runners have complained about parts of the course (such as a hill deep into the 26-plus-mile route) that stray too far from what the famous New England run offers — mostly flat terrain.
“I love coming to see the finish lines of these things,” Ashley Stack said, “because it’s amazing what these people are able to do.”
Ashley and her mom, Rhonda, headed downtown just to watch; part of 2nd Street closed down for the first time for the finish.
“And I like that…a bunch of the restaurants have opened up and are having a breakfast menu,” Ashley said.
Arooga’s Sports Bar, next to the finish line, opened three hours early Sunday to take advantage of expected crowds. In addition to the normal menu, they included breakfast foods and drinks like mimosas and Bloody Marys.
A DJ played music and tried to pump up the crowd from a small booth on the sidewalk, and people holding signs and pom-poms lined the street leading up to the inflatable arch that signaled the race was over.
“I think it brings in a lot of out-of-towners as well,” Arooga’s assistant general manager Adam Szar said of the race. “It’s a little city, but it has a big city feel.”
After two and a half hours, Fred Joslyn, who’s already qualified for the Boston race, crossed the finish line more than three minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.
He’s a fan of the new course.
“You know in terms of excitement,” he said, “I think that they’re on the right track, and I think it’s going to build from there. You build a race the right way and people have a good experience, and they tell their friends and other people want to do it.”
“Mini-Boston” organizers are happy to have people like him running their mouths.