Sy Mah was an influential figure in the running boom of the 1970s. Mah was an assistant professor of physical education at the University of Toledo from 1970 to 1988. Mah did not start running marathons until he was 40, yet at the time of his death in 1988, Mah held the record for the most lifetime marathons at 524.
The Sy Mah Memorial Scholarship at the University of Toledo was established in 1990 by his friends and family with financial support from the Toledo Roadrunners Club. In addition to meeting various academic standards, qualified recipients within the College of Health Science and Human Service are required to be "avid social runners."
Mah ran the Glass City Marathon several times, including at the inaugural event in 1971. Runners in the Glass City Marathon pass by a life-size statue of Mah in Olander Park Mah is believed to have said, "I believe Americans have been brainwashed with the idea that they must do less because increased age will result in less energy and diminished capacity. I have found this is simply not true if a person does not allow his mind to accept the traditional view of aging."