The First Steelathlon Slated for YSU

Hurdles, tube crawls and tractor tire flips will challenge participants in the inaugural running of the Steelathlon — a nearly three-mile adventure race through downtown Youngstown and Youngstown State University campus.

Erin Mellinger, the president and founder of the Steelathlon, is doing this for her clients and to celebrate Youngstown.

“I own personal training studios, and that’s really what’s motivated me to do this,” she said. “Clients have always wanted to do adventure runs, but they were too long or too muddy. So we tried to get the best of all the worlds and put this together.”

The race is an obstacle course, which runs though different parts of the YSU campus and downtown Youngstown. The obstacles vary in type and difficulty — such as the stadium stairs which challenge competitors to go up and down the stadium numerous times, hopping through semi-truck tires, jumping over round hay bales and walking on telephone poles as balance beams. The top finishers in each age group will receive a medal, and those who cannot complete a task have the option to do 25 crunches before moving on, though it does disqualify the participant from winning any medals or awards.

While the race’s awards are centered on competition, Mellinger believes having a challenging, local and inclusive event available to participants is more important than rankings or medals.

“The greater purpose is to have something close to home for everybody around Youngstown to do, and it’s just one more fun thing to do in downtown Youngstown. I think that YSU is an awesome university,” she said. “It would be so cool to do something that celebrates downtown. We have a lot of man-made obstacles in this course, but we also have a lot of things that are just unique to Youngstown that people will be running through, and what better way to celebrate it than by doing something healthy and active.”

This event serves as more than just a healthy activity or a way of celebrating Youngstown, as it is also a charitable effort to raise money for a local organization, allowing Mellinger to give back to a city she has come to love.

“I love Youngstown and I love giving back,” she said. “I’m blessed. I thought, well this will be something fun and different for the community that will raise money for a good organization.”

The proceeds from this event will go to the Rescue Mission of Youngstown. Jim Echement, the executive director of the Rescue Mission, is excited about this support.

“This is an awesome demonstration of the support that this community has here for us … what we do at this mission in transforming lives,” he said. “We are just so blessed by our relationship with YSU and those in the Valley.”

Both Echement and his associates have a desire to see this become an annual event.

“We look forward to making this an annual event to benefit not only our people, but everyone in the Valley, to keep everyone healthy,” Echement said.

Along with the relationship formed between the Steelathlon and the Rescue Mission, a partnership has been established between the Steelathlon and YSU’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Cadet Commander James Stiger of the YSU ROTC is excited to connect with the community through the event.

“We partnered with the Steelathlon in part because it’s an obstacle course, and we enjoy our obstacle courses here at ROTC. We’ve done multiple Tough Mudders as a group. Plus we like to support these local events … we’re very tied to the community.  We have about 15-20 people signed up to do it now,” Stiger said. “It sounds like it will be a great event and a lot of fun.”