FUS priest to raise money

STEUBENVILLE – Father Gregory Plow, TOR, the chaplain of the men’s and women’s cross-country teams at Franciscan University of Steubenville, will run in the Wild Idaho Ultramarathon on Aug. 3.

The endurance run through the Boise National Forest is made tougher by the location’s extreme elevations and temperatures. Runners are allowed 19 hours to complete the 53.4 mile race.

“Long distance running is like a life-long vocation – it’s an adventure with beautiful experiences and extremely difficult experiences,” said Plow.

His run will raise funds for the Spirit of St. Francis Scholarship, a newly established full-tuition scholarship for incoming freshmen to FUS who are academically qualified but financially constrained.

Plow was able to attend a Catholic elementary school through the financial assistance of his pastor.

“I might not be a Franciscan priest today were it not for the generosity of others who helped me attend a Catholic school,” he said. “I am hoping to raise enough money by running this race to substantially assist students who can qualify academically to attend Franciscan, but could not imagine attending the school given their financial situation.”

Seeking exercise while studying for the priesthood, Plow began running 8 years ago. He has completed 11 marathons and many shorter races, averaging a little more than one marathon a year. The Wild Idaho run is his first ultramarathon, and he will spend the week leading up to the race on a spiritual retreat at a cabin in the Idaho wilderness.

As coordinator of the student faith households at FUS, he said he will offer the first 48 miles of the ultramarathon for each of the 48 households. Miles 49-52 will be offered for future recipients of the Spirit of St. Francis Scholarship. The final length of the course will be dedicated solely to God in thanksgiving.

Besides the distance, the ultramarathon boasts hot and unpredictable temperatures, elevations up to 7,700 feet, a cumulative elevation gain of 16,000 feet, and even mountain lions and bears.

“Last year, I was on a 13-mile run through the same national forest and I ran into a huge black bear,” he said. “Thanks be to God, he was more scared of me than I was of him.”

To contribute to the Spirit of St. Francis Scholarship, contact the FUS Development Office at 1-800-783-6447. Donations will also be accepted online at giving.franciscan.edu/funds/Spirit-Of-St-Francis.