Runners came from all corners of western Pennsylvania. They traveled to Johnstown from Ohio and Maryland, too.
And, like the organizers of Morley’s Run, a 10 mile run/five-mile run/walk through the scenic streets of Johnstown in its first year, they walked away from the finish line just behind the gazebo in Central Park pleased.
“This is the perfect distance. You feel it, but you can recover from it,” said 51-year-old Chris Sheftic of Hollidaysburg. “This is the only 10-mile I’ve done in years. The last one was here in Johnstown probably around 20 years ago.”
Sheftic frequently runs 5k and 10k races plus the occasional half-marathon. Earlier this year, Sheftic ran a marathon in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
And he won the 10-mile Morley’s Run, whose proceeds benefitted Newspaper In Education, in a time of 1:00.47. Debbie Connor was the women’s 10-mile winner (1:04.23). Rukvin McCabe, a freshman at Westmont Hilltop High School, finished first in the men’s 5-mile race (34.02), while Tracey Caron was the female 5-mile winner in 34.04.
Born and raised in Boswell, Sheftic also lived in Somerset for several years. He averages between 60-65 miles during a normal week and enjoys running in extreme conditions, which is why he once ran a late-season race outside Uniontown called the Summit Challenge. That was a near four-mile run up a mountain.
So, the cold condition Sheftic and the other 220 participants faced Saturday morning were of no concern.
“I love it. I wish it could have been more extreme,” Sheftic said. “I don’t mind a little snow.”
And, like the majority of runner and walkers, Sheftic enjoyed the course.
“I thought it was a great course,” he said. “I really liked the woods section a lot.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Ethan Imhoff of Hollidaysburg, who finished second in the 10-mile about three minutes (1:04.06) behind Sheftic, his training partner.
“The course really wasn’t that challenging. There was a lot of downhill, but it was really nice,” Imhoff said. “I like how it went point to point. I thought it was neat starting at the Incline and there was some beautiful scenery. People probably think it’s weird, but running through the old iron works was kind of cool. It really gave you a flavor of Johnstown.”
That was one of the missions of race directors Joe and Heather Nibert, who designed the course for the race. They are running enthusiasts and specifically wanted the race to go through Stackhouse Park.
“Stackhouse Park is a hidden jewel. A lot of people don’t know it’s there,” Heather Nibert said.
The Niberts were approached in late August to help coordinate the event. It’s not a lot of time to organize and event the size of Morley’s Run, and the initial goal was to attract 100 runners in the first year. That total was more than doubled.
“The numbers alone are good enough,” Joe Nibert said. “When you add the number of volunteers and the sponsors who all came together, it’s crazy to see how well this all went off.”
As for next year’s goal?
“Hopefully we can double the numbers for next year,” Heather Nibert said. “We’re ecstatic with the turnout. At the end of August when we started pulling this together, we hoped for 100 runners, but we busted our butts to get this together.”
A couple hundred more runners could mean more people like Bryan Peterson of Baltimore may run.
Peterson was one of two participants from Baltimore, the other was Kristie Matevish, and he said the race provided the perfect reason to get back to his hometown for his mother Elaine’s birthday.
“This is the first race I’ve run in Johnstown,” Peterson said. “It’s inexpensive and it’s a great course. Heather and Joe did a great job organizing it. They did a lot. They’re to be commended. … This gives me an excuse and a reason to come home. I’ll make the trip again next year.”
Photos from the race can be purchased starting Wednesday by visiting www.tribdem.com.