WHEELING - Anyone who questions the benefits of getting more regular exercise should speak to guys like Mitch Toto, Steve Habursky or the Rev. Bob Cole about the art of running.
"I can do some things that some people in their 20s and 30s can't do," said Toto, who will be 73 by the time he runs in this year's Ogden Newspapers 20K Classic Run and Walk. The race is set for Saturday, May 29, with preliminary events slated for Friday, May 28.
As members of the exclusive group known as "The Ironmen," Toto, Habursky and Cole plan to tackle the challenging course through Wheeling for the 34th consecutive year.
(Photo by Casey Junkins)
Getting ready for the Ogden Newspapers 20K Classic Run and Walk are, from left, Ironman Mitch Toto, Race Director R. “Scat” Scatterday and Ironman Steve Habursky.
Other Ironmen who have competed in each of the Ogden 20K Classic events are Tim Cogan, David Claypool, Pat Cronin, Paul Exley, Dave Fiorilli, Dr. John Holloway, H. Lawrence Jones, Bruce Kirby, Joe Kubik, Mike Lemaster, Grant Marks and Ted Rouse. These athletes will again dig deep to test their skills after the gun fires for the start of this year's race.
"It is a way of life," said Cole, 75. "Every year for 34 years, this is what we do."
Cole - who noted he has been running since his was in junior high school in 1949 - said he enjoys the sport because it improves his quality of life by giving him more energy.
"I run a little bit every day. I try to average 5 miles a day," Cole said. "It just makes me feel better."
Toto emphasized that he is a year-round athlete who works on strength and conditioning.
"I am now able to continue my quality of life into later years," he said.
"As you get older, it gets a little tougher," Toto added of training his muscles. "But like I always say, 'Use it or lose it.'"
Habursky, 61, has overcome surgery to both his shoulder and hip to continue his athletic career.
"I think it is just a great stress reliever and helps me stay in shape," he said.
"This is a great sport to get into because all you really need is a good pair of running shoes," he added, noting that proper shoe selection can be critical to success in the field.
Robert "Scat" Scatterday, race director, said Ironmen like Toto, Habursky and Cole are living examples of how daily exercise can benefit everyone.
"You do not need to join a health club or be a big-time athlete," Scatterday said. "Just be active because anything you do can be a great benefit to your health."
As part of the race festivities, a new element to this year's Torch Relay, which annually honors generations of veterans, will be the inclusion of an Easter Seals Rehabilitation client. Other Easter Seals clients and their families will follow behind in a trolley.
The 6-mile Torch Relay begins at 4 p.m. May 28 at Osiris Shrine in Elm Grove. The estimated two-hour event culminates at the start/finish line on 14th Street in downtown Wheeling, where military-style music will be played, including taps.
In addition to the Torch Relay, other Friday events include a Black Hawk helicopter flyover and landing between 6 and 6:30 p.m. at Heritage Port; the Ogden Tiny Tot Trot at 6:45 p.m.; the Ogden Fun Run at 7:15 p.m.; and the Ogden Mile at 7:30 p.m. The helicopter will remain on site until 8 p.m.
On May 29, the 20K Walk begins at 7:30 a.m.; 20K Run and 20K Relay Run both start at 8 a.m. The 5K Run and 5K Walk begin 8:15 a.m. After the races, starting at 9 a.m. at Heritage Port, the Easy Street band will perform, followed by awards ceremonies.