REPOSTED from The Time Tribune by Shane Hennigan
PUBLISHED: JUNE 16, 2016
The pace of play of a baseball game at PNC Field has never been tested like it will be Friday night.
Then again, the stadium at the foot of Montage Mountain has never seen an event like this before.
When RailRiders scheduled starting pitcher Kyle Haynes throws his first pitch to the Gwinnett Braves’ leadoff hitter, baseball’s race against time will begin.
The RailRiders and Planet Fitness are teaming up to host Man vs. Marathon Night with proceeds benefitting Ryan’s Run for Allied Services. When that first pitch is thrown, relay teams made up of five runners will start a 26.2-mile run around PNC Field.
“With the whole birth of the time clock last year, it just seemed kind of natural,” RailRiders Director of Marketing and Promotions Barry Snyder said. “Our area is so big into running now. So we figured we might as well be weird and try it out and see what happens.”
Prior to the pitch clock’s installation last season, Snyder said there was always a running joke within the front office as to whether or not a person could finish a marathon before a RailRiders home game could be completed because of how long they seemed to take.
Once the pitch clock came into play, that running joke started to become more serious. When Snyder, who has run two Steamtown Marathons, one New York Martahon and a Scrantotn Half Marathon, and the RailRiders teamed up with Planet Fitness, the next step was the hardest — figuring out a course route, which includes having to exit the stadium and then re-enter it because of the possibility of a large Friday night crowd.
The starting line begins in the Honda Homer Zone in right center field with the runners going behind the Oak Grove Deck in right field and out of the stadium.
Following a slight uphill, the runners eventually will return to the sidewalks and pass the administration office on the first base line, the box office, the home plate entrance and finally the RailRiders’ clubhouse on the third base line before re-entering PNC Field in the Kost Party Pavilion entrance in left field.
From there, runners will continue their run over the walkway and past the center field batter’s eye before coming back to the starting line.
Runners from each team will run one leg — three laps or 1.2 miles — before handing the baton off to the next teammate. The first runner of each team will run 15 laps (six miles), the second will run 14½ laps (5.8 miles) and the third, fourth and fifth runners each will run 12 laps (4.8 miles).
The winning team will receive a $500 gift certificate to the Scranton Running Company as well as gear from Planet Fitness. Every finisher also will receive a medal similar to that seen in marathon races.
Updates that show the leader and their mileage will be provided on the scoreboard. Volunteers including the Lackawanna College cadets will help supervise the course to maintain a clear path throughout the night.
“That’s the most stressful part, keeping the course clear,” Snyder said. “There’s an area right by the Kost Pavilion where you came back into the stadium where it’s kind of a sharp corner. The running course is going to take over that whole sidewalk behind the Kost Pavilion so there’s not going to be any foot traffic.
“There’s also a part by the batter’s eye where it’s a very small walkway so we have to keep that supervised, as well. We have a ton of cones and chalk line and caution tape just to remind people what’s going on because there really is going to be so much happening that night.”
On the field, the RailRiders will sport some unique jerseys. In conjunction with Glow in the Park night, the team will still wear their neon green and black colors but with a catch. The jersey tops will be worn in the form of a runner’s singlet with a green undershirt and a running bib with the team’s logo attached on the front.
The jerseys will be auctioned off following the game with proceeds benefitting Allied Services.
So what’s the best case scenario for how this promotion turns out?
“We have at least one team beat the baseball game,” Snyder said. “Really best case scenario is that maybe they’re on their final lap within an out or two and then the person beats the game.”
While the promotion limits the number of relay teams, there is still plenty of incentive for the casual fans to come and experience it. Treadmills will be stationed in parts of the stadium for fans to walk or run on.
Fans who arrive with their 2015 Steamtown Marathon medals will get a free ticket and those who bring their 2016 Scranton Half Marathon medals will receive a half-price ticket discount.
Following the conclusion of the game, there will be a kids race along the warning track as organizers prepare to for David “The Bullet” Smith’s Human Cannonball show that will commence the fireworks display.
“Oh, absolutely we’ve thought about it being an annual thing, especially with the pulse of running in this area,” Snyder said. “Especially with our 360-degree experience. Not all teams can do this. We’re not even using the whole ballpark, we have the convenience of going outside with the runner’s kind of getting their own breather and then jumping back in the crowd. I think it’s a pretty unique setup.”
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