During Friday's Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders game, a long-running joke became a long-running reality.
It was "Man vs. Marathon Night" at PNC Field, in which 12 five-person teams tried to run a marathon in less time than it took to play that evening's game between the RailRiders and visiting Gwinnett Braves. The marathon course consisted of .42-mile laps, beginning on the right-field concourse and encircling the perimeter of the ballpark before re-entering on the left-field side.
"Our front office had always joked about us playing the longest home games in the International League, consistently over three hours long," said Barry Snyder, the RailRiders' director of marketing and promotions. "The joke became, 'Which takes longer to complete? A marathon or one of our home games?'"
And thus, Man vs. Marathon was born. RailRiders players suited up in glow-in-the-dark green and black running-themed jerseys, with the team logo made to look as if it was affixed to the jersey with safety pins. All proceeds from the evening, via the jersey auction and running team registration fees, went to local charity Ryan's Run.
Snyder oversaw the logistics of the event as each competitor ran a three-lap "leg" before passing the baton (which, in this case, was a slap bracelet) to a teammate.
"We had two spotters at the finish line, one was our accounting intern and the other analytics," Snyder said. "They would radio to the control room, updating the mileage counter. That kept fans involved during the race.... Each team was running for a section of the ballpark. The winning team would win complimentary tickets for everyone in their section."
Thirty volunteers, helping direct both car and foot traffic, were stationed along the race route.
"They kept the roads secure and the path route secure," said Snyder. "There were no injuries reported, and that was one of the most successful things."
Friday's game took three hours and seven minutes to play. The Scranton Running Company was the first -- and only -- team to finish a marathon before the contest ended, with Snyder reporting that they completed the task "with four outs to go." Two additional teams were able to complete the marathon during a 20-minute interval between the end of the game and the start of a postgame performance by touring daredevil the Human Cannonball.
"It was interesting, for sure," said Snyder. "We have time clocks at the ballpark now, so why not run a marathon?"
The Week in Review
A brief yet insightful round-up of that which took place over the past seven days (or so).
June 15: A Rodney Dangerfield impersonator attended the Charlotte Knights' Caddyshack celebration in full "Al Czervik" regalia. Because you may as well gopher broke.
The El Paso Chihuahuas honored 2015 fan favorite (and relentless social media self-promoter) Cody Decker with his own bobblehead. Decker couldn't attend as he was busy suiting up as a Sea Dog that evening.
June 17: Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco, for reasons unknown even to him, is nicknamed "El Coffee." The Altoona Curve honored him with his own "El Coffee" bobblehead, in which he's gripping a steaming cuppa joe.
The Frederick Keys, as threatened, went all out on "'90s Nickelodeon Night."
Soon enough, these upcoming events will align with the present moment. Prepare yourself accordingly.
Wednesday: One week after paying tribute to both Jennifers and redheads, the all-inclusive Bowie Baysox stage "Twins Night." Twins in attendance can get two box seats for $22.
Friday: Bobblehead giveaways don't get any more baffling or brilliant than the Lexington Legends' "Glenn Hubbard Snake Bobblehead," an homage to Hubbard's 1984 Fleer baseball card. This memorable slab of cardboard depicts Hubbard, then with the Braves, in a moment of snake-handling revelry before a game in Philadelphia. The card has become a cult favorite through the years, and this bobblehead -- which features 'real' beard hair -- is sure to add to the legend of Hubbard and the snake.
It's "Superhero Night" in Omaha, and the Storm Chasers are using the occasion to "honor cancer-fighting superhero" Miles Mortenson. Miles, the 4-year-old son of Storm Chasers pitcher Clay Mortenson, is the subject of the team's "Super Miles" jerseys. These jerseys, chosen via a fan-submitted design contest, feature yellow sleeves that symbolize pediatric cancer awareness. #LetsGoMiles is emblazoned on the left arm.
The Rochester Red Wings' enduring Batman promotion returns. This year's guest, like Burt Ward before her, is an alumnus of the ultra-campy TV show that aired from 1966-68.
Saturday: The Akron RubberDucks pay tribute to Major League with this undulating lower-body tribute to one of the film's most popular characters.
Sunday: It's "Franco-American Heritage Day" in New Hampshire, and the Fisher Cats are hosting "Poutine-Fest."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.