WVU Medicine Morgantown Marathon honors veterans

MORGANTOWN — A Californian and a cowbell figured into the WVU Medicine Morgantown Marathon on Sunday.

The Californian is Patty Bishop. The cowbell, we’ll get to.

Bishop runs an import business in Orange County with David Bishop, her husband of 25 years.

When she isn’t running in half-marathons, that is.

She was among the 1,000 or so runners who took to the sidewalks and roadways of the University City for the fourth annual event.

Her first-ever visit to Morgantown and West Virginia was the last notch in her running shoes, as it were.

With her finish near the middle of the pack in the day’s “Thirteener” half-marathon, Bishop can now say she ran races in all 50 states.

“Got ’em all,” she said, laughing, as she posed for photographs at the finish line in the parking lot of the WVU Coliseum.

“I’m just going to engage in shameless, selfish pride today,” she said. “It feels good.”

Almost heaven … with a lot of hell

Except, uh, when it doesn’t, she allowed.

The Thirteener was part of the Marathon package that also included an 8K walk/race and the Big Dawg: The Marathon, which bills itself as 26.2 “Almost Heavenly” miles.

Scenery-wise, Bishop can see the “Almost Heavenly” part. Running here, though, she said, definitely made for, well, the other thing.

“Oh, yeah, it was hell,” she said, with the same half-grin/grimace a lot of her fellow runners were sporting at the finish line.

“All that up and down.”

Indeed.

Jamie Summerlin, the race director and official with the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitor’s Bureau came up the course to challenge the world’s elite runners while showcasing Morgantown’s scenic, challenging terrain.

To get to the finish line, runners have to manage Monongahela Boulevard — and that’s all uphill.

“You climb 187 feet in seven-tenths of a mile,” he told The Dominion Post previously. “That’s our ‘Hill of Pain.’ ”

Summerlin said Sunday he was pleased with the amount of entrants for the races.

“People know it’s for a good cause,” he said.

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Honoring those who served

The day benefited men and women who went through hell for their country.

All proceeds from Morgantown’s marathon go

to Operation Welcome Home, a Mylan Park

nonprofit that helps veterans and active duty soldiers transition to civilian life, which includes jobs and school.

Summerlin is the former CEO of that organization and currently serves on its board of directors.

He also served six years in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Gulf War and did an oorah on a grand scale in 2012 — when he embarked on a 3,452-mile “Freedom Run” from Oregon to Delaware in 100 days — to raise money for veterans groups nationwide.

The local marathon, he said Sunday, was just an extension of the mission.

“This is why we’re here.”

Gotta have more cowbell

Patricia Feldmeier, mean-while, was there to support the runners, including a group of her friends.

She pulled off in the Pizza Hut parking lot to do so. The restaurant and lot sit in a crook of the Hogback Turn, on W.Va. 7 near Sabraton.

The turn is on a steady rise, and more than one runner labored to crest it.

Feldmeier cheered them on with an aforementioned cowbell, which she called “the great motivator.”

“They all love the cowbell,” she said.

One runner, taking wrenching steps in attempt to negotiate Hogback Turn, smiled when he heard it.

“Hey, wow, thank you,” he said, smiling.

“How are you holding up, sir?” a spectator with a notebook asked.

“Well, I’m feeling it,” he said. “I can tell you that. But I love that cowbell.”

He then proceeded to give Hogback hell.

Tweet @DominionPostWV. Email jbissett@dominionpost.com.

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