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Mt. Nittany Marathon Helps Participants 'Run with Nature'

by on September 01, 2014 7:00 AM

Bill Deardorff, wearing a medal around his neck, walked haltingly to his car on Sunday morning, coming as close to limping as one can while still staying upright. 

His labored walk was understandable. The State College resident had just run over 26 miles in the second annual Mt. Nittany Marathon, starting from Medlar Field and running around the perimeter of the borough, past Mount Nittany and back again.

“It’s rewarding emotionally. You realize you can overcome your perceived physical limitations and work through the pain,” Deardorff says. “Well, I’m still working through the pain. It’s time to go recover.”

While Deardorff may have only driven ten minutes to support an important local cause, others came from many miles away.

Jon Bauer drove all the way from Wisconsin to be in State College for the Mt. Nittany Marathon as part of an ongoing goal to complete a marathon in every state. Sunday's race was 41 out of 50, though his ten-hour drive to State College grew to twelve hours when he realized he’d forgotten his running shoes after he’d gotten an hour away from his home.

“The race started at seven this morning, and with just one minute to race time the sky opens and it just starts pouring,” he says.

Event organizer, president of the Mt. Nittany Conservancy and StateCollege.com columnist John Hook says the rain did surprisingly little to dampen people’s spirits. 

Over 150 volunteers dutifully lined the length of the marathon at water stations, and he says racers enjoyed the cooling effects of the rain – as opposed to last year, which “was 85 freaking degrees out,” prompting them to move the race to earlier in the morning.

“When people talk about the iconic symbols of Happy Valley, they always mention Mt. Nittany,” Hook says, explaining why raising awareness for the conservancy is important. “After all, they’re not the ‘pussycat lions.’ They’re the Nittany Lions.”

For Huntingdon, Pa. resident George Conrad, Sunday morning’s trek through Happy Valley helped him prepare for the upcoming Tussey Mountainback 50 mile race in October. Having run 20 miles the day before (and then 26.2 more on Sunday), Conrad says he looks forward to “a day of rest” before resuming his training.

“I consider running more an art form than exercise,” Conrad says. “Once you get going, you find you can take yourself farther and farther. I always think of myself as not running on the earth, but running with the earth.”

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Michael Martin Garrett is StateCollege.com's general assignment reporter, an alumni of Penn State and the bassist for local indie rock band Sun Whales. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelMGarrett.
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