Running: Area athletes enjoy marathon’s return to Centre Region

This summer marked a resurgence in distance running in the region, with 10-milers added to two local races and a successful inaugural marathon on Labor Day weekend.

Despite hot and humid conditions, 138 people completed the Mount Nittany Marathon on Sunday. It was the first marathon in State College in more than two decades, and hundreds of volunteers and spectators came out to support runners along the 26.2-mile course.

Winning by an 11-minute margin was A.J. Kelly, 31, of Altoona, in 2 hours, 45 minutes, 48 seconds. Kelly is no stranger to the hilly terrain of State College, having won the resurrected Arts Fest 10-miler in July. He said the marathon was the toughest he’d done, though, including the notoriously difficult God’s Country Marathon in Potter County, where he placed second in 2:48:58 back in June.

In second behind Kelly was Thomas Rudowsky, 20, of Lexington Park, Md., in 2:57:35, followed by Richard Koubek, 24, of State College in 2:58:46.

The women’s race was more closely contested. Jessica Sarnicola, 33, of New York was leading through 20 miles but took a wrong turn and finished second in 3:33:55. Kathryn Koetje-Simin, 42, of State College took first in 3:32:15. Becky Wittrig, 45, of Port Matilda was third in 3:39:40.

At noon on race day, as many of the runners were approaching the finish line near Beaver Stadium, the marquis at the Bryce Jordan Center read 86 degrees. Race volunteers and spectators did all they could to keep runners cool and hydrated. Official aid stations supplied water and Gatorade, and several unofficial stations handed out additional water and snacks. One homeowner even set up a sprinkler for racers to run through.

Herbie’s “Home Town Loop,” in its seventh year in Bellefonte, featured a new 10-miler in addition to the usual 4-miler. Chris Cipro, 24, of State College won the inaugural 10-miler on Aug. 17 in 58:36. Becky Wittrig was the first woman in 1:15:42. Former Penn State runner Sam Borchers won the 4-miler in 23:52 and Stephanie Herbstritt was the first woman in 28:46.

Two new 5K races helped fill up the late summer racing calendar on Aug. 3. At the Grange Fairgrounds, Constantin Schreiber of Tempe, Ariz., won the FarmFest 5K in 17 minutes, 53 seconds. Tara Murray of Bellefonte took the women’s division in 21:01. In Tudek Park, Alex Curtze won in 18:57 and Nora Adams was the first woman and second overall in 19:37.

Running calendar

•  Mountainback Discovery Series Legs 6 and 7, Sept. 12, 5:40 p.m., Alan Seeger Natural Area. The Discovery Series introduces runners to the course for the Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon through a series of evening training runs. The series continues on Thursday evenings through Oct. 10. For details and starting locations, see

•  Centre Region Youth Cross Country meets, Sept. 14, Sept. 28, and Oct. 12, 8:30 a.m., Circleville Park, 3225 Circleville Rd., State College. For youth age 14 and younger. Distance and start time vary by age group. Website: Contact Greg Fredericks at 466-6976 or

•  Pennsylvania Hardcore Mudd Run, Sept. 28 and 29, Mid-State Regional Airport, Philipsburg. 6.5-mile obstacle course. Website:


•  Haven of Hope 5K, Sept. 28, 11 a.m., Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, State College. Registration: $25 by Sept. 15 or $30 on race day. Website:


•  Steps 2 Safety 5K, Oct. 6, 1 p.m., White Course Drive parking lot off of North Atherton Street, State College. Register online at

or on from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 5 at Penn State Federal Credit Union, 1937 North Atherton Street.

•  Knights of Columbus 5K and youth run, Oct. 13, 2 p.m., State College YMCA. New 2-loop course. E-mail

or visit


•  Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon, Oct. 20, Tussey Mountain Ski and Family Fun Center, Boalsburg. Website: