43 Years — And Still Young! Ironmen Are Back for More
9:53 am Sunday, May 26, 2019
By ALAN OLSON
WHEELING — “The years start comin’ and they don’t stop comin’” — for six all-stars running the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic, that song by Smash Mouth rings more true than for most.
Six men — Dave Fiorilli, John Holloway, Larry Jones, Pat Cronin, Tim Cogan and Mike LeMasters — are the determined athletes who have run the half marathon track 43 times, since its inception in 1977. While “I’m not as young as I was 40 years ago” is a common sentiment among this elite group known as the “Ironmen,” Saturday morning proved a fine day to return for another year on the course.
“I feel lucky,” Cogan said. “It’s just sticking with me how slow I am now. I’m still competitive. I’m not running ridiculously, but I’m still trying.”
Cogan said he previously ran 10 to 15 marathons a year; now he’s down to four or five.
For the other Ironmen, the half marathon has become a competition with themselves to continue to finish, rather than maintaining a personal best.
“I’m just hoping to finish. I realize that, in my older age, I’m not what I used to be, and I have to plan accordingly,” said Fiorilli, 71.
Prior to the start of the race, Holloway was concerned with the weather — humid, sunny and warm. Undaunted, he said he would strive to keep coming back each year.
“Last year, it was the same thing, and I really was hurting at the end. Hopefully we’ll make it through,” he said. “I have a lot of mixed feelings about the race now. It’s a lot tougher than it was 40 or so years ago, but I’m going to keep coming back as long as I can.”
Jones sees each year’s race as an affirmation of his life.
“For me, it’s a celebration,” he said. “It’s celebrating loving, celebrating the many years of community support, and a celebration of life. Being alive, enjoying life — that’s what it’s about.”
“I just hope to finish in one piece, and good luck to all the other guys joining me. Hopefully I see them all next year,” LeMasters added.
LeMasters said he just recently completed a race in Ireland during a visit there.
“I try to run a race in every country I go to,” he said.
Holloway was the first Ironman to cross the finish line, ending at around 2:21:05.