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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Over 300 Runners Registered for Saturday, June 4 God’s Country Marathon

Over 300 Runners Registered for June 4 
         God’s Country Marathon

Enthusiasm is building for the 42nd Annual God’s Country Marathon, presented by the Potter County Visitors Association (PCVA) and JKLM Energy, LLC that will be held on Saturday, June 4. 316 runners are registered to date: 107 running the full marathon, a record setting 164 running the half marathon, and 45 participating on 9 relay teams. Registration remains open through the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner at the American Legion Post 192 on Friday evening. This year’s registration is the highest since 1981.

About the Race

The God’s Country Marathon is the third most longstanding marathon in Pennsylvania and is a USATF certified course and sanctioned event. It’s also a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon. Runner’s World Magazine has named it one of the “10 toughest marathons in the USA,” as well as one of the “best small marathons” for the personal attention and care paid to its runners. Most recently, Competitor Magazine named the God’s Country Half Marathon one of “America’s 25 Greatest Half Marathons.” The challenge of the course is “Conquering the Hill,” Denton Hill, reaching 2424 feet above sea level.

Growing God’s Country

The race has grown significantly in recent years, more than doubling in size over the last five years. Registration hit its lowest in 2004, with just 87 runners. This year, registration is on pace to surpass last year when it reached 307, the highest since 1981. The majority of the growth is in the half marathon, which at this time last year was at 114.

“The addition of the half marathon, in particular, has really had an impact on the popularity of God’s Country,” said David Brooks, Executive Director of PCVA and race director. “But we also attribute the growth to the efforts we’ve made to improve our event. We’ve started going to other races and really learning about what it takes to make it a great race experience for runners, so we’ve implemented some nice improvements, like custom die cast finishers medals, performance t-shirts, a post-race party and better amenities in our runner recovery area. This year, we’ve also added our new Conquer the Grill BBQ Competition in hopes that we’ll bring more spectators out to cheer on our runners as they cross the finish line after they Conquer the Hill. We’ve grown to really love this event and the amazing people that come to run it every year.”

Runners Profile

19 States Represented: Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, California, Connecticut, Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona, Delaware, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Texas, Illinois and Wisconsin.
4 Countries Represented: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Colombia
Traveling farthest – Stephen & Theresa Greenhalgh, Shropshire, United Kingdom
Oldest – Pilar Sargeant, 78, Westfield, PA
Youngest – Brynen Kisiel, 15, Coudersport; Thaddeus May, 15, Lowman, NY; Alexis Lyon, 15, Cumming, GA
Longtime God’s Country Runners – Bob Bernhardy, 74, Wellsboro, PA running for the 25th time; Pilar Sargeant, 78, Westfield, PA running for 20th time.
Returning Champs – Bryan Morseman, 30, Bath, NY, 2012 God’s Country Half Marathon, 2013 & 2015 God’s Country Marathon; Katie Chaput, 31, Lawrenceville, NJ, God’s Country Half Marathon Women’s Division 2012, 2013 & 2015.

Chasing the Record
Terry Stanley of Eldred

It was in 1981 that Terry Stanley of Eldred set the current men’s course record. Stanley holds the top four all-time best times in the God’s Country Marathon, 2:25:12 (1981, the current men’s course record); 2:26:42 (1978); 2:27:36 (1979); 2:27:45 (1988). The only other runner to ever break the 2:30 mark was Canadian Donald Howieson in 1977. Stanley, who was inducted last year into the Pittsburgh Marathon Hall of Fame, was known for years as “King of the God’s Country Marathon.”

Last year, elite runner, Bryan Morseman, came close to beating Stanley’s record with a time of 2:31:35, 9:30 under his personal best time in God’s Country. Morseman’s 2015 time was the 7th best all-time and the best time ever on the current course, which was changed from a CARP Park finish to a Courthouse Square finish in 2002. He missed breaking Terry Stanley’s course record of 2:25:12 (1981) around six minutes. He’s become a fan favorite at the God’s Country Marathon, much as Stanley was in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Morseman won the first ever God’s Country Half Marathon in 2012 with an incredible time of 1:12:29. He returned to run the full marathon in 2013 and won with a time of 2:41:05. Had he kept a comparable pace to his half marathon time, he would have broken Stanley’s course record.
Bryan Morseman

Morseman is returning this year with a goal of running a time to place him in the top five all-time for the God’s Country Marathon, and with a little luck and decent weather, breaking the course record. Morseman’s son who was born with spina bifida and his earnings from winning races help pay the medical bills.

“It’s been a long time that Terry Stanley has held the course record,” said Brooks. “When we first saw Bryan win the half marathon in 2012, we thought he could be the one to break it. He’s not just a great runner, he’s a great guy and we’d love to see Stanley’s proverbial crown be passed on to him this year.”

Race Day Schedule – All events are free and open to the public
7 AM – Full Marathon/Team Relay Start, Galeton High School
8 AM – Half Marathon Start, Denton Hill State Park
9 AM – 2 PM – Runners Arrive at Finish Line, Courthouse Square
11 AM – Half Marathon Awards Ceremony, Courthouse Square
1:30 PM – Full Marathon & Team Relay Awards Ceremony, Courthouse Square
5 PM – God’s Country Marathon “Over the Hill” Party, Hotel Crittenden. Live music, no cover charge.

Spectators are encouraged to come out to the course and cheer on the runners, as well as congratulate them as they cross the finish line at the Courthouse Square in Coudersport. The first runners are expected to cross the finish line between 9 – 9:30 AM. CLICK HERE FOR SPECTATOR GUIDE
For more information on the God’s Country Marathon, visit Volunteers are still needed to host water stations and assist at the finish line. If you are interested in helping out, please contact PCVA at 814-274-3365.

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