Long-time Altoona Area High School cross country and track coach Angie Gioiosa made a positive impact on hundreds of area runners that came under his direction.
Three of them - Travis Etters, his sister, Krista, and Todd Runk - will be competing in the JFK UltraMarathon Saturday in the late Gioiosa's honor and memory.
Travis and Krista Etters and Runk will be part of the 50th running of the 50-mile race, which will begin in Boonesboro, Md. and wind up in Hagerstown, Md.
Travis Etters and Runk, both 33 and 1998 graduates of Altoona High School, competed on Gioiosa-coached teams. Krista Etters, 38, did not compete on the scholastic level for Gioiosa, but she benefited from his coaching when she began her competitive running career several years ago.
"I did not run for Angie in high school, but I knew him for many years, and I appreciated all the help and encouragement he gave me when I started running as an adult in my 30s,'' Krista Etters said in an email to the Mirror. "Since running my first 5K race about six years ago, I have progressed to completing marathons.''
Angie Gioiosa - who died in 2011 at the age of 72 and was a 2002 inductee to the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame - was the first overall finisher in the JFK UltraMarathon back in 1975. Travis and Krista Etters, along with Runk, are trying to raise money for the Angie Gioiosa Memorial Scholarship Fund, a scholarship that recognizes one boy and one girl cross-country and/or track and field athlete at Altoona Area High School.
To date, a total of $1,500 has been raised for the Gioiosa Memorial Fund. Individuals can donate directly to the Altoona Area High School, but must note the Angie Gioiosa Memorial Fund in the memo line on their checks. More information is available on the Facebook page www.facebook.com/ultraforangie.
"Last year, we were able to give two $500 scholarships,'' Travis Etters said. "That's our [minimum] goal every year, depending on the funds [generated].''
The course begins on the Appalachian Trail for several miles, and continues for most of its duration on the Canal Trail, before winding up on the road.
"The course looks almost like a horseshoe, starting in Boonesboro and winding through Harpers Ferry, W.Va.,'' Travis Etters said. "We figured that this is the best way to honor [Gioiosa]. We're hoping to run [in a time] between eight and nine hours for the whole 50 miles, which will probably put us in the middle of the pack.
"I just want to finish and be healthy enough to walk the next day,'' Travis Etters added.