Indiana, PA - Indiana County

RUNNING: Organizers pleased with first marathon, set up a second

by DUSTIN FILLOY on October 01, 2013 10:35 AM

The blueprint for organizing a successful charity marathon seemed quite obvious to longtime Indiana Road Runners Club members Donna Scanlon and Tom Fetterman Sr. last November.

The duo had just coordinated the first marathon to be held in Indiana County, and they were delighted to raise $11,000 and attract 238 competitors to the Ghost Town Trail.

Scanlon detailed a simple, but extremely valuable, lesson she learned from co-directing last year’s event by saying: “If you put on a good race, you’ll raise the money.”

Scanlon and Fetterman hope the extraordinary success from last year’s event spills over to the second installment of The Indiana First Bank Veterans Marathon, Half-Marathon and Relay, which will be held Sunday, Nov. 10.

Full marathoners and relay teams will begin at 9 a.m. at Saylor Park in Black Lick and will race to Dilltown and back, a trek of 26.2 miles. Half-marathoners will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will run to Heshbon and back, a distance of 13.1 miles.

The course is certified for any competitor in either race that wishes to try and post a Boston Marathon qualifying time.

“We went beyond any of our expectations last year,” Scanlon said. “When we talked early on in the planning, we thought we’d be fortunate to raise a few thousand dollars for the Indiana County Veterans Assistance Fund. But when all was said and done, and with the help of Indiana First Bank and other generous sponsors, we did something no one expected and raised $11,000. Brenda Stormer (director of ICVAF) was just thrilled. She was in tears when we handed her the check.”

Catering to the needs of several groups of area runners, Scanlon and Fetterman decided to add a relay race to the event’s agenda. The relay teams will consist of four runners, with the first three legs each covering 6.5 miles and the fourth leg 6.7.

“We realized that there are a lot of runners who aren’t up to finishing even the half marathon, and that’s fine. Different people are going to be comfortable running different distances,” Scanlon said. “It’s obviously an opportunity for more people to participate, and we’re actually hoping to get some local high school cross country teams involved.

“With the nice trails we have, we figured the relay points at Heshbon and Dilltown would be perfect to cut the trail in fours.”

Last year, the race attracted runners from 10 states and one from Washington D.C., to make the journey to Indiana County.

Fetterman, 72, a veteran of 114 marathons, pointed out that the event drew so much attention because marathoners jumped at the rare chance to compete in a rural environment on a trail. He also said that because the trail doesn’t provide the space that a city street would, he and Scanlon had to limit the number of entries.

“I wanted to put on a road marathon in Indiana County for years, but we couldn’t do it because of all the highways and intersections,” Fetterman, who’s competed in at least one marathon in every state and in four provinces in Canada, said. “But when the Ghost Town Trail opened, I knew it’d be a nice spot to have one. In my experience over the years, good marathons have always been about the little things. Having the correct amount of Porta-Johns, having the right amount of water stops, and having the right kind of food and first-aid stations are the little things that matter the most.

“We also don’t want to overcrowd the trail, so we limit the number of participants. It’s not like a street in Pittsburgh where the runners can spread out and take off. We’re always aiming to keep things safe first.”

Fetterman said the Allied Milk Producers will hand out free milk to competitors after the race, and a Sheetz truck will be present to feed competitors and spectators throughout the day.

A veteran of the Vietnam War, Fetterman also shed light on how he and Scanlon chose the ICVAF to become the beneficiary of the event.

“We basically didn’t want to do this if it wasn’t for a good cause,” Fetterman said. “So I suggested to Donna that we help the veterans, and she’s had a lot of family members who were vets, so she was all for it. People weren’t too kind to vets when Vietnam was going on, but now people actually care and want to help. It’s amazing how many people care and want to support local vets. It’s just tremendous, and I can’t tell you how much we appreciate it.”

Race applications, volunteer forms and business sponsor forms can be downloaded at

All proceeds of the race benefit the Indiana County Veterans Assistance Fund. The fee for each race is $26.20.

For information, call Scanlon at (724) 349-3200 or Fetterman at (724) 349-7402.

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