WHEELING — The Ogden Newspapers 20K Classic Run and Walk Hall of Fame welcomed six new members Saturday.
Jack Cagot, Dr. John DeBlasis, Patty DeGasperis, Dave Fiorilli, George Frazier and Bill Hannig Jr. were officially enshrined during the awards portion of the luncheon at Heritage Port that followed Saturday’s races.
Cagot didn’t start road racing until age 47. But he sure has packed plenty of success into the past 30 years.
He has ran in 52 marathons, including Boston five times, New York once and Los Angeles six times.
But Cagot, 77, still considers the Ogden 20K his favorite.
Cagot first started road racing in the late 1970s at a walk for cancer event in Wintersville. And from there, his love of the sport exploded.
Cagot starred in football, basketball and baseball at the former Springfield High School. And when he started racing, the natural speed he possessed emerged.
Always looking for a challenge, Cagot once competed in five 10K events in one weekend. He also finished 285th in the L.A. Marathon in 1988, an event that also served as a qualifier for the Seoul Summer Olympics.
Cagot resides in East Springfield and is retired from Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel. He worked in the mill, at the Steubenville and Mingo plants, until he was 71.
While he’s never laced up his shoes for any of the previous 33 Ogden 20K races, John DeBlasis is a friend to all who compete in the event.
DeBlasis has been a familiar face along the race course since it’s inception and is mainly noted for his work helping runners at the finish line.
DeBlasis began his association with the race by working at the aid station at Bethlehem hill. But for most of his tenure he’s been a presence at the finish line.
Little has changed with what the medical professionals have had to deal with on race day, according to DeBlasis. Sure, technological and medical advancement have been made on treating certain injuries, but overall, the things medical professionals keep an eye out for on race day have remained constant.
DeBlasis credited late Dr. Lee Jones for setting the standard of care offered at the race and noted the list of people helping at the finish line has gone virtually unchanged.
DeBlasis, a Bellaire native, has worked in physical therapy in the Ohio Valley since 1976.
When Patty DeGasperis’ husband, Larry, died more than 30 years ago, she needed an outlet to relieve the stress of her loss.
That outlet became road racing.
So, along with friends, Sandy Mendenhall, Brenda Buffington and Russ and Mary Lou Hutchins, among others, DeGasperis began to take to the streets of Wheeling.
But it wasn’t until the early 1980s that she decided to give what was then the Elby’s a shot.
Two of DeGasperis’ biggest fans are her parents.
Mr. And Mrs. Norman Pentino, age 90 and 88, respectively, still cheer their daughter on as the race winds through Elm Grove.
DeGasperis has always won or been at the top of her age group in the Ogden. She has also qualified for the Boston Marathon and competed in a variety of other smaller races.
To be a part of the Ogden HOF is a welcome surprise.
One of the famed Ironmen, Fiorelli has competed in all of the Memorial Day weekend races.
Along with folks like D.J. Jebbia and Melvin Kahle, the former Wheeling firefighter used to run at the former YMCA.
Fiorelli started running at Wheeling Central in cross country to get in shape for other sports. He also ran quite a bit during a stint in the Navy.
Then in 1977, he competed in the first Elby’s and has been part of the race ever since. He is one of a select group of men who have competed in every race.
Well, he did miss one, but that was due to his service in the Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s.
While competition helped fuel Fiorelli’s fire during the early years of the race, camaraderie is the focus of the event these days.. As for when he’ll stop trying to tame the streets of Wheeling, Fiorelli’s not sure.
Frazier has been a big part of the race, as a runner and behind the scenes.
Frazier’s brother, Mike, competed in the first race in 1977 and finished in the Top 10.
The following year, George Frazier competed in his first race and Saturday the Wheeling resident competed in his 31st Ogden, with his son, Chad.
As manager of CentreTown Fitness, Frazier has opened the doors of the facility on race day each year so participants can shower, etc.
Frazier and his wife, Debbie, have served on the Young Life committee locally for 25 years. A few years ago the group was asked to help at the finish line.
Bill Hannig Jr.
Bill Hannig has been away from Wheeling for seven years, but the memories of his days running the streets with his friends are near and dear to his heart.
So when Hannig, who now lives in western Maryland, found out he was going to be enshrined in the Ogden 20K Classic Hall of Fame, it made his day.
Hannig said he was part of the “Greenlawn Greyhounds,” a group of men who liked to run in Wheeling. He was 39 when he competed in his first Wheeling race.
And it was a race in early days where local runners could rub shoulders with some of the nation’s elite runners like Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter.
And when Hannig was injured or couldn’t compete for reason, he helped with other aspects of the race.
Hannig, who will turn 72 in October, has had two knees replaced, but he wouldn’t change anything about his running career.
(Photo by Scott McCloskey)
George Frazier, left, and John DeBlasis congratulate each other after being inducted into the Ogden Newspapers 20K Classic Run and Walk Hall of Fame in Wheeling Saturday. View additional photos at cu.news-register.net.
Fact Box? Class of 2010 inductees John Cagot, John DeBlasis, Patty DeGasperis, Dave Fiorilli, George Frazier and Bill Hannig Jr. were
honored during the awards portion of the luncheon that followed the race on Saturday.