Running in every Classic since 1977 has left Dr. John Holloway with plenty of great memories

GREAT MEMORIES — Dr. John Holloway, right, stands with Race Director R. “Scat” Scatterday at his Wheeling office. -- Scott McCloskey

WHEELING — Running the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic has provided 63-year-old Wheeling resident Dr. John Holloway with plenty of great memories.

Holloway said he feels extremely fortunate and blessed to have had the opportunity to run in the event for more than four decades now. Signing up only days before the inaugural race in 1977, Holloway — a 22-year-old attending medical school at the time — said the extent of his training was running a “3-mile lap” while visiting with his brother on Wheeling Island.

“It truly was, as I say, a lark,” Holloway said. “It truly was a spontaneous thing. … I had to walk the last two miles,” he said.

Because he didn’t own official running shoes at the time, Holloway said he made a visit to the old Thom McAn store at the corner of 12th and Market streets and bought a pair of shoes for about $6.

“And that’s how it all started,” he said.

Holloway, along with eight other local men, still is part of an exclusive club known as the “Ironmen” that was established in the 30th year of the race by Race Director R. “Scat” Scatterday. The group has distinguished themselves by running the race every year since its inception in 1977.

Holloway, Paul Exley, David Claypool, Tim Cogan, Pat Cronin, Dave Fiorilli, Steve Habursky, H. Lawrence Jones and Michael Lemaster are the nine Ironmen who will be lining up at the start/finish line on 14th Street in downtown Wheeling on May 27 to give it their best effort for the 41st time. For each Ironman to remain an active member of the group, he must sign up for the race, have a starting time and have a finishing time, according Scatterday.

Holloway said while he has never considered himself as a big running enthusiast, as the years went by it became more of a goal for him to continue running in the event. But he said there is no question that exercise is a big part of of his life.

“I rarely miss a day of exercise. So it’s just a matter of incorporating (marathon training) into my daily exercise routine,” Holloway said. “I’ve always said it’s a blessing and a curse … just trying to get ready for the race. It’s a lot tougher than it used to be.”

Holloway said he is fortunate to have remained injury-free from the sport, despite enduring another medical hurdle just over a year ago when he had a coronary stent procedure — something that happened without warning.

“I woke up one night with crushing chest pains. I delayed going in because I knew it couldn’t be my heart because I exercise all the time and ever since then I’ve had no risk factors,” he said. “This happened on a Saturday … went home on Sunday and Monday, two days after I had these (stents) placed I was on the treadmill and did six miles,” he said.

Holloway said he feels a sense of accomplishment mentally and physically to be able to run the Ogden race every year and he is extremely grateful to Scatterday and all the volunteers who help make the race a yearly success.

“I’m incredibly fortunate and incredibly blessed to do this year after year,” he added.

Scatterday said Holloway is part of very unique group that continues to make history.

“They are not just runners. Every time they run, they are creating running history. They really don’t recognize how unique and important that is,” Scatterday said of the Ironmen.