ARMOLD: York Marathon, YMCA a perfect fit to continue running tradition


After a few successful years, a local sporting event can become a tradition. The longer it goes, the harder it becomes to imagine it coming to an end.

For the worthiest of events, when faced with the possibility of that end, every effort is made to ensure it goes on.

For local runners, York's annual marathon is one such tradition.

The Bob Potts Marathon was named after an original member of the York Road Runners.

Potts died in 2005 while participating in a triathlon in New Jersey. His son, Sean Potts, and daughter, Robin Myers, created the race to honor their father and give back to the community through the race's proceeds.

When it was announced in 2014 that the Potts Marathon would be coming to an end after six years, this new tradition was suddenly in need of those rescue efforts.

That's where the York YMCA stepped in.

The organization took over the race in the hopes of carrying on its giving ways, while also continuing to provide runners the distance competition they've come to know and enjoy.

The result of those efforts is Sunday's inaugural York Marathon, which gets started at 6 a.m.

"I thought this would be a great addition to what the Y does in the community to still host a marathon in the area," said Karen Ruppert, York YMCA associate executive. "Sean did a great job during the past six years and runners appreciated a local marathon. With our involvement with health and wellness, this is a natural fit for the YMCA. Our organization already hosts a successful 5K run (Turkey Trot), so a longer distance event somewhat made sense in the spring."

Still helping the community: Much like its predecessor, money raised from the York Marathon supports community initiatives.

The York County Heritage Rail Trail, which makes up a large portion of the race's course, will still benefit, with funds going toward the trail's maintenance.

"With the YMCA being close to the Rail Trail downtown, there are numerous Y members who run or bike on the trail in the a.m. or at lunch as part of their wellness routine," Ruppert said.

Area youth also remain a top benefactor. The new race has partnered with the Quarterback Club of York, which provides scholarships to local student-athletes.

Another factor that will help the race maintain its viability is the fact that participants will have the chance to post times good enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Some changes: One thing that will be a little different, however, is the course.

The race will now start at the YMCA on North Newberry Street. Racers will head down Newberry before a stretch on Princess Street that spans the bridge over the Codorus Creek. Once runners reach the Rail Trail, the course is almost a mirror image of the Potts course, just with a new turnaround point, farther north, just before Springfield Road.

The finish point has also changed. The race now ends on the trail by the old colonial courthouse at Lafayette Plaza.

An addition to the race that runners will enjoy is the employment of chipped timing. The race will utilize this technology through PA Runners, which also times the Harrisburg Marathon. That race is also run on a Boston-qualifying course.

Entertainment: Also, like years past, runners and volunteers alike will be able to enjoy some entertainment along with the race.

There will be a DJ on hand at the finish line from 7 a.m. until noon. A post-race party, sponsored by the White Rose Bar and Grill, will begin at 11 a.m., with food and drink for runners, volunteers and spectators. Awards will be presented there as well.

Weather constraints over the past few months delayed the process of getting the course certified to be a Boston Marathon-qualifying course. In turn, that has had an impact on registration, according to Ruppert. As of this writing, the race had come close to its goal of 100 runners.

It would have been a shame to see York lose such a unique event. So it's nice to see that a local group stepped up and made sure that didn't happen.

Hopefully this installment can hit the ground running and continue the race's success for years to come.

— Reach Elijah Armold at; @EADispatch on Twitter.