Ironman Toto to miss Ogden Classic Half Marathon

WHEELING– He’s run for 24 hours straight. He’s biked across — and around the perimeter of — the United States. He’s completed the Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii. And he’s an Ogden Ironman.

He’s Mitch Toto, and later this month, for the first time in 38 years, he won’t be at the starting line for the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic.

Toto’s body is willing — he had planned to run the Ogden until earlier this month — but the 76-year-old was diagnosed late last year with a heart arrhythmia. His recovery has gone well, but he and his wife of 53 years, Nancy, agreed the stress of running another half marathon didnt make sense.

“It’s a letdown, you want to do it but your better judgment says not to,” Toto said of competing in the Ogden. “I’ve had a long run, not only with the Ogden but also triathlons, marathons, a 4,200-mile trek across the United States, a 12,000-mile ride on the nation’s perimeter, 24-hour runs, endurance challenges. … I’ve put a lot of miles on this body of mine.”

Toto also has run the Boston Marathon twice.

What’s bittersweet for Toto is the Ogden is where his running career began. At age 40, he ran the first Wheeling distance race and, according to Nancy, has never looked back.

In fact, the Ogden race has played such a role in the Totos’ life that their daughter, Christine Toto-Nicholes, pregnant and due with the couples’ first grandchild at the time of one year’s race, was informed by her mother that she could have the child before or after the event — just not on race day.

Toto-Nicholes and others will honor Mitch Toto during this year’s Ogden Half Marathon Classic, set for May 24, by running in his honor with shirts that read “Toto 38” on the back.

Toto’s departure from the active Ironmen ranks leaves just 10 men who have run every race: David Claypool, Tim Cogan, Pat Cronin, Paul Exley, Dave Fiorilli, Steve Habursky, Dr. John Holloway, H. Lawrence Jones, Joe Kubik and Michael Lemaster.

Race Director R. “Scat” Scatterday said Toto served as an inspiration for his fellow Ironmen.

“The spirit was willing, but the body wasn’t,” Scatterday said of Toto.

“He’s been an inspiration to not only the average runner, but particularly the Ironmen because he practices and warms up for our race by running several 5Ks.

“He is a true Ironman, everything about the guy. We will miss him at this year’s Ogden Half Marathon.”