Gearing Up for God’s Country Marathon

2011 God's Country Marathon Winner Christian Byler of Rochester, NY

POTTER COUNTY – Organizers of the God’s Country Marathon are gearing up for an exciting race day on June 2. With the addition of a half marathon, course record challenges and chip timing, this year brings a new level of enthusiasm to the 38th running of the race.

“With the addition of the new half marathon, we’re definitely seeing an increase in the number of runners this year,” said David Brooks, Executive Director of the Potter County Visitors Association. “Our total registration has already surpassed the number of participants we’ve seen over the past several years. Last year, 133 runners finished the race. We currently have 185 total runners registered for the full marathon, half marathon and relay, and we expect registrations will continue to come in over the next week.”

At each marathon, fascinating stories arise, as runners come from states and countries near and far to tour God’s Country on foot. Each runner has a story behind their run, a reason she’s running, or a goal he’s set for himself. Some run to qualify for larger races, like the Boston Marathon. Others run for the personal satisfaction of knowing they can do it. Some run for the scenic course. But what they all take away is the satisfaction of knowing they “conquered the hill” and completed one of the ten toughest marathons in the country.

This year’s runners range in age from 17 to 75 and will be coming from 17 states and two countries to run. The runner traveling the farthest to participate is half marathoner, Adrianna Taylor-Brown, of Unalakleet, Alaska. This year’s runners also range in experience. Ten runners will be attempting their first ever marathon, while 69 year old Jim Reeve of South Padre Island, TX will be running his 645th marathon. Paul Marraccini, 68, of Monongahela, has run all 37 God’s Country Marathons and will return this year for his 38th run.

Michele Gregory will be coming from Tampa, FL to run the half marathon. With several family members in Port Allegany, she’ll not only have a large cheering section at the race, but a large party at the pre-race pasta dinner as well. Michele donated $100 to the pre-race pasta dinner, which she plans on attending with her many family members from the area.

Along with her donation, Gregory sent a note saying, “I am really looking forward to spending time with my family, which was facilitated by this event.”

Proceeds from the pasta dinner benefit the Coudersport Volunteer Fire Department.

Two runners have chosen to leverage their runs to raise money for charity through Crowdrise. The first runner to register with Crowdrise was Coudersport’s own Kevin Cracknell. Cracknell has run the full marathon several times and is participating this year as part of a relay team. He has raised nearly $500 for the Boys and Girls Club of Potter County. Brooke Wolosewicz, of Smethport, is running to support her local library. Wolosewicz has already surpassed her goal of raising $200. Runners and volunteers are encouraged to leverage their efforts to raise money for charity through Crowdrise. To participate, visit www.crowdrise.com/godscountrymarathon.

Cash prizes of $500, $250 and $100 are awarded to the top three men’s and women’s finishers, respectively. The top three men’s and women’s finishers in the half marathon receive cash prizes of $250, $100 and $50.

A new addition to this year’s race is a course record challenge. Should the men’s and women’s full marathon champions break the course records, they’ll be awarded $500 bonuses. Christian Byler, of Prattsburgh, NY, will be a runner to watch as he returns to attempt back to back wins. Byler won last year’s race with a time of 2:50 and won the 2008 race with a finishing time of 2:42. Byler reports a personal best time of 2:27 at the Wineglass Marathon. The men’s course record is 2:25.12, set by Terry Stanley in 1981. The women’s course record is 2:50.12, set by Jacquie Merritt in 2001.

The top three finishers in each age category for both the full and half marathon receive gift baskets, as well as the runners on the top placing five-person relay team. One lucky full marathoner will win a free night’s stay at Miller’s Mountain Retreat. One half marathoner will win a free night’s stay at Oak Hall Bed & Breakfast. Names are randomly drawn for the overnight accommodations.

Disposable chip timing will be used for the first time this year. With chip timing, a runner’s progress is tracked through electronic mats placed at strategic points throughout the course.

The God’s Country Marathon is seeking volunteers to assist with pre- and post-race duties, as well as to help distribute water, ice and other replenishments throughout the course. If you are interested in volunteering at the event, contact Kim Mitchell at 814-274-7717.

This year marks the 38th annual running of the God’s Country Marathon. The God’s Country Marathon is a USA Track and Field Sanctioned Event and Certified Course and a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon. For more information, visit www.godscountrymarathon.com.