43 Years — And Still Young! Ironmen Are Back for More

Six still remain as those who continue to compete

Larry Jones hypes himself up for the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon run, which he has undertaken for 43 years. Photo 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.

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