These Ironmen Refuse to Slow
By IAN HICKS
Everybody likes nice, round numbers.
The Ogden Ironmen — a select group of nine road racers who have finished each Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic since its inception — are no different. That’s why, as they prepare to run the race for the 41st time later this month, some of them already are thinking about the next big milestone: No. 50.
“It’s doable. It’s reachable. It’s attainable,” Race Director R. “Scat” Scatterday told the group during a recent meeting at Generations Restaurant and Pub. They’ll be leading the pack at the start/finish line at 14th and Main streets when the starter’s pistol goes off at 8 a.m. May 27.
The nine remaining Ironmen are Paul Exley, David Claypool, Tim Cogan, Pat Cronin, Dave Fiorilli, Steve Habursky, Dr. John Holloway, Larry Jones and Michael Lemaster. They range in age from 57 to 70 years old, and while they all have diverse backgrounds and experiences, they have one thing in common.
They don’t quit.
“It’s a goal worth getting up for,” Fiorilli said of the prospect of running 50 consecutive Ogden races — which would happen in 2026.
These men have overcome plenty of obstacles over the years to keep their streaks intact. In 2014, Habursky battled through a knee injury to cross the finish line. And last year, Exley ran despite a devastating skiing accident just months earlier, while Holloway took on the course after having a coronary stent procedure done not long before the race.
The group’s motivation for running has evolved over the years — from trying to win the race or set a personal-best time, to simply finishing and continuing an impressive tradition. But that doesn’t mean their competitive spirits have faded, particularly among each other.
“Last one standing, maybe?” Fiorilli said of what drives him to continue running the race year after year.
For Exley, running 41 consecutive Ogden races wasn’t on his mind when he laced up his running shoes for the inaugural event in 1977. But as the race’s reputation as one of the toughest races of its kind in the country began to grow, it started to mean much more.
“After the first race, you realized how special it was, and it just became something you did every year,” Exley said.
Fiorilli also was quick to point out the accomplishments of someone he calls “the true Ironman” — Mitch Toto Sr., who will turn 80 years old later this month. He “retired” as an official Ironman in 2014 due to a heart arrythmia. However, Toto — who lists biking across and around the perimeter of the United States among his exploits — is hoping to get back into running by sometime next year.
“That’s an amazing accomplishment,” Fiorilli said.
Registration for this year’s race is available at ogdenhalfmarathonclassic.com.