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The Runaround: Sue Crowe Memorial Arts Festival Races Are a Summer Tradition

by on July 01, 2019 9:12 AM

One of the oldest races in Central Pennsylvania takes place in a few weeks on July 14. Started in 1976, the Sue Crowe Memorial NVRC Arts Festival Races began as a 10-mile race. In the years since, the course has changed numerous times. The original course had runners begin near the Bellefonte Airport, come down by Spring Creek to Houserville Road and Benner Pike, and finish at College Avenue and Allen Street. For the past few years, the races have started and ended near Beaver Stadium and Medlar Field. This year they move just down the road to the Ag Arena and will feature 10k and 5k races.

The race is named for local running legend Sue Crowe. Along with winning the Arts Fest 10 miler and 10k races, she was a marathoner who posted a personal best of 2:49:58 at the 1984 Boston Marathon, where she finished in 20th place. This race also qualified her for the 1984 Olympic trials.

Along with being a talented runner, Sue was also a kind-hearted mother and grandmother who gave back to the State College running community. She tragically passed away in 2006. At the time, I had just started subbing long-term at State College Area High School. I was lucky enough to have Sue’s youngest daughter, Edel, in one of my classes. I began subbing on Feb. 8 and Sue passed away four days later. I had no clue what had happened until one of Edel’s friends pulled me aside to let me know. Talk about being thrown into the reality of teaching. I was amazed at how Edel was able to handle this horrible situation. She even ran at an indoor invitational six days after her mom had passed.

Edel and the rest of her siblings, were, and still are, outstanding athletes. Edel ended up at Notre Dame. Her sister, Chris, ran competitively at Bucknell. I’ve become pretty good friends with Chris and her family over the past few years thanks to our sons being classmates and close friends. On our first few runs together I had no clue about her lineage. During one morning run I had my mind blown when I found out who her sister and mother were -- life coming full circle. 

Even though the race is named in her memory, according to Chris, that doesn’t mean it was her favorite. In fact, this was quite the opposite. “She dreaded this race,” Chris told me once on a morning run. “My mom was never a negative person, those are my dad’s words.” She followed up that she enjoyed the event and the camaraderie, but just the nature of racing in mid-July was not her favorite. Running in State College in July is no walk in the park. With temperatures in the 80s from June to August and humidity hovering around 137%, it’s rare if you can do anything outside without dripping in sweat. Compound that with the lack of any roads being flat and you’re in for a challenge. That said, the course last year produced a 5k personal best for me and the race T-shirt is always one of the most artistic ones in my collection.

The race benefits the Nittany Valley Running Club. Funds from the race will go toward sponsoring youth running programs in Centre County. The 10k starts at 8:15 a.m. and the 5k starts at 8:30 a.m. Kids races will take place after the 10k and 5k races have finished. Online registration can be completed here

Doug Schunck with an age group 1st place mug from the 2015 Arts Festival 10k.

Race Calendar

7/4 - 7:50 a.m. - Angie Gioiosa 4th of July Memorial Races - 15k, 5k, 2 mile walk - Downtown Altoona

A race that’s been around even longer than the Arts Fest races is the Angie Gioiosa Races in Altoona. I have run the 15k for the past few years. As someone who grew up in Altoona, I enjoy running around the city, even running past the house my mom and I lived in for a few years on 57th Street. As I ran past the house a few years ago, I saw our old neighbors. When I said hi, they just looked at me and had no clue. When I told them who I was and that I used to be “a little girthier” they perked up when they realized I was the husky high schooler who used to live beside them. Running the course will also make you realize how deceptive the hills are in Altoona. 

7/4 - 9:00 a.m. - The 18th Annual 4thFest Firecracker Races - 4 miler, 4k - PSU Campus

This race is a great way to start out your 4th of July festivities. The course goes through the PSU campus and includes a festive race shirt.  

7/14 - 8:15 a.m. - The 44th Annual Sue Crowe Memorial Races - 10k, 5k, and Kids Races

I won’t be running these races but I certainly will be helping out on the morning of the race. Hopefully I’ll see you there. 

7/26 - 7:30 p.m. - Houtzdale Days 5k Run/Walk and Fireman’s Challenge

This challenging, yet fun, course starts and ends at the celebration so you and your family can enjoy the festivities. The Fireman’s Challenge follows the same course but participants must wear or carry turnout gear for the entire race. 

7/27 - 8:30 a.m. - The 7th Annual Flutopia 5k - PA Military Museum

The most musical 5k around is back and on a new course! Runners will be serenaded by a variety of music groups. Proceeds will benefit Centre Volunteers in Medicine. 

7/28- 5:00 p.m. - Nittany Track and Field All-Comer Meet #1 - State High Track

The Nittany Track and Field youth club will host two all-comer-style meets this summer. All ages and skill levels are welcome. Events include 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter, 800 meter runs, long jump, discus, and turbo javelin. On-site registration is available from 4:30-4:55pm.


Doug Schunk is an avid runner and a chemistry teacher at State College Area High School. His running column will appear monthly.
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