STEUBENVILLE, OH—August 3 was the day for Father Gregory Plow, TOR’s big run in the Wild Idaho Ultramarathon through Boise National Forest.
The Franciscan University of Steubenville friar and coordinator of faith households did not disappoint: He finished the grueling 53.4 mile run in 18 hours and 7 minutes; the last of 17 of the original 22 runners who started the race.
“When the going got tough, I remembered I was running for the students who are too poor to come to Franciscan University,” said Father Plow. “Most people don’t finish their first Ultramarathon. But I finished under the (19 hour) limit and hit all my checkpoints.”
Besides the distance, the Wild Idaho Ultramarathon boasts hot and unpredictable temperatures, elevations up to 7,700 feet, and a cumulative elevation gain of 16,000 feet.
“I got a chance to see both the sunrise and the sunset. Both times I was summiting mountains; it was amazing,” he said.
Father Plow used the run to raise money for the Spirit of St. Francis Scholarship, a new, full-tuition scholarship for incoming Franciscan University freshmen who are academically qualified but financially constrained.
“A lot of people were very generous, but we still need support for the scholarship. I do not want to have ‘run this race in vain,’ as St. Paul says, so I hope people will give to these students who need financial support to come to Franciscan,” he said.
Father Plow offered up the first 48 miles of the ultramarathon for each of Franciscan’s 48 student faith households. Miles 49-52 were offered up for future recipients of the Spirit of St. Francis Scholarship, and the final length of the course was dedicated solely to God in thanksgiving.
Wearing a Life Runners decal on the back of his jersey, Father Plow also sought to promote the nationally-based Life Runners, who pray, fundraise, and run for pro-life causes.
The chaplain of Franciscan University’s cross country team, Father Plow first began running to stay fit while studying for the priesthood. He has now completed 12 marathons.
To contribute to the Spirit of St. Francis Scholarship, contact the Franciscan University Development Office at 1-800-783-6447 or go to the Spirit of St. Francis Scholarship Fund page.