Club race series returns for 2017

The Nittany Valley Running Club kicked off 2017 by announcing the return of its race series. Runners earn points by running or volunteering at races in the series, which includes about 20 events of varying distances.

Incoming club President Bob Shafer said in an email that he increased the number of trail races to four in the series for 2017.

“It will probably never be completely balanced but I just wanted to include a few since so many people enjoy both,” he said of road and trail running.

Details for some races are still being finalized, but a preliminary list and series details are available on the club website at

“I’m pretty excited about the race series,” Shafer said.

His other goals for the club this year include adding more social runs and events, growing the club’s membership and increasing visibility in the community. The club already supports local youth running activities and community charities through its races, but Shafer hopes to organize volunteers for other charity work.

In 2016, the club provided refreshments for a group of volunteers who cleared the path around Penn State’s golf course as part of the United Way Day of Caring. The path is regularly used by local runners.

The club also sponsors blood drives with a running theme, featuring screenings of popular running films and running magazines. The NVRC Winter Blood Drive will be from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 19 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. Online appointments are available To volunteer, contact Mike Casper at 814-863-7922.

Nittany Valley Half Marathon

There is no award for the runner traveling the farthest distance to participate in the Nittany Valley Half Marathon, but if there was, the 2016 award would have gone to Veselin Lefterov, of Vratsa, Bulgaria. The half marathon on Dec. 4 was the 32-year-old’s first race in the U.S.

Lefterov said he was looking for a 10K or 10-mile race near Pittsburgh, where he was staying. He eventually settled on the longer half marathon in State College, noting that it was the biggest running event in the area that weekend.

“I was a bit unprepared for the race,” Lefterov said in an email. “I decided that it would be an easy run, kind of ‘stroll in the park,’ and I would have fun just looking around, chatting and so on.”

The race did not go as planned, however. Like many local runners, Lefterov got caught up in the excitement and downhills at the beginning of the course.

“Then came the middle of the course and the big downhill after it — I knew it’s bad but just couldn’t resist full speed — followed by the series of ups and downs that made me feel like I was on a trail event, without the mud, and then came the last mile of ascending, that was a good slap on my happy, downhill running face,” he said.

Lefterov finished the hilly 13.1-mile course in 1 hour, 41 minutes, 4 seconds, taking fourth place in his age division.

He said the race was not much different from events he’s participated in in Bulgaria, although he missed having a DJ to warm up the crowd, and was surprised that participants weren’t required to wear race numbers and that the course was not closed to vehicle traffic. The Nittany Valley Half Marathon prides itself on a “low-frills” approach to racing.

Lefterov was one of 450 people to complete the half marathon. Vince Fadale, of State College, was the overall winner in 1:15:38, followed by previous winner AJ Kelly, of Altoona (1:16:41), and John Balouris, of Hollidaysburg (1:17:00). In the women’s race, Marina Orrson, of Shavertown (1:24:42), beat out previous women’s winner Meira Minard, of State College (1:30:03). Arielle Hesse, of State College, was close behind Minard to take third (1:30:26).

Minard repeats in Trail Runner Trophy Series

Minard has excelled in local road races, but has proven nearly unbeatable off-road. For the sixth year in a row, she won her age division in the non-ultra distance competition of the Trail Runner Trophy Series. The 2016 series included more than 200 trail races of varying distances in North America. Minard also won the 40-49 division in 2014 and 2015, and the 30-39 division from 2011-13. She was the overall female winner of the 2016 PA Trail Runner Trophy Series.

Local race results

About 500 finishers braved the cold to ring in the new year at the First Night State College Resolution Run 5K. Chris Cipro, of Centre Hall, led the way, finishing in 16:22. Eric Marshall, of State College, was seconds behind him (16:28), and Jacob Loverich, of State College, took third (16:48). Patrick Singletary, of State College, was the top masters finisher in 17:04.

Liz Novack, an alumna of State College Area High School and Penn State, was the first woman in 18:40. Michelle Herman, of Bellefonte, took second in 20:02, with Minard just behind to take third in 20:04. Lisa Davis, of State College, won the masters division in 22:31.

▪  John Iceland won the Run Rudolph Run 5K in State College on Dec. 10, finishing in 22:07. Rosemary Ciletti was the first woman in 26:05.

Race calendar

▪  Nittany Valley Running Club Indoor Mile Series, Ashenfelter Multisport Facility, Penn State. Races with heats for runners of various speeds will be held in conjunction with Penn State indoor track meets on Jan. 14, Jan. 27 and Feb. 3. For start times and registration and eligibility information, see

▪  CJ’s Resolution Challenge, Jan. 7, 9 a.m., R.B. Winter State Park. Includes a timed 3-hour run and a “last man standing” competition, both run on a 1.6-mile course including road and trail sections. Benefits Autism Diagnostic Evaluations Resources Services, Inc. For registration and more information, see