SCRANTON — Daniel McGlynn was that rare tavern owner who had a habit of running to work every day.
His house was “exactly one mile” away from Andy Gavin’s Tavern, which he owned and operated from the late 1970s to 1988, and jogging that mile seemed like a perfect way to make exercise a part of his day.
“One night I came in after one of my runs and I casually made a comment to one of the beer salesmen sitting in the bar that I should start a race through Green Ridge, finishing up at the bar.”
Almost as soon as he said it, McGlynn realized it was a good idea.
The Green Ridge Mile, now billed as Lackawanna County’s oldest continuously held race, has been held every Thanksgiving weekend since 1981 in the Green Ridge section of Scranton, ending at the tavern on North Washington Avenue.
McGlynn recently came across photographs from the inaugural event when he was “going through boxes I haven’t opened in 25 years.”
The first race featured three divisions: a fast one for high school and college athletes and other runners between ages 16 and 30, a master’s division for older runners, and an open race for children and walkers.
“I won my own race,” McGlynn said with a sheepish laugh, explaining he took first place in the master’s division at age 31, with a time of 4:52.
His involvement with running sparked him to depart even more from what was at the time standard bar culture.
“Back in the ’70s and ’80s, walking into a bar in Scranton or Wilkes-Barre was walking into a death trap with the amount of smoke in the air,” he said. “I was a (football) athlete in high school and college so I kind of looked at the bar scene a little bit differently.”
“A few years after I started the Green Ridge Mile, I did ban smoking in Gavin’s,” he said, wondering if “that might have been a first in the state.”
Although he’s retired and no longer involved with the Green Ridge Mile, McGlynn, 67, is pleased that the race he started has survived for 36 years.
The current race organizer, Don Surace, took over responsibility for the Green Ridge Mile when he purchased Andy Gavin’s Tavern in 1988.
According to results posted on the NEPArunner website, 274 individuals participated in this year’s race on Nov. 25, with the fastest male runner, 19-year-old Matt Kravitz, finishing in 4:20 and the fastest female, 29-year-old Jennifer Pierce, finishing in 5:33. The event includes a 400-meter fun run for children as well as the mile race, and proceeds benefit United Cerebral Palsy.