8K to honor Running Man, an urban legend to some

Left: Courtesy of NBC 29
Right: Staff photo Left: Courtesy of NBC 29 Right: Staff photo

In honor of Philip Weber III, aka Running Man, the director of Champion Brewing Company’s running club is organizing a memorial 8K that will take place on Saturday, May 28, and benefit the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library.

Weber died after he was struck by an SUV on Ivy Road last December.

“There were times when, to hear people describe the Running Man, you’d have thought they were describing some sort of urban legend,” says James Walsh, director of Champion’s Paavo’s Apostles, the weekly running club. “A guy who runs shirtless, double-digit miles every day, rain or shine, in snow and wind? Who does that? But generations of students and townspeople saw him out there on the road, doing his thing.”

Walsh says Weber’s reputation was that of an eccentric but good-hearted man. While planning the race, many people Walsh spoke to told tales of meeting Weber at gas stations, parties or out on the road, and leaving “with smiles from ear to ear.”

For the memorial run, Walsh says his group plans to set up a mini shrine to the Running Man at Champion Brewing Company, with photos of him on the road, medals from his races and other trinkets and remembrances.

Walsh collaborated closely with Weber’s sister and brother-in-law, and says they feel the race will be “an appropriate memorial and will provide a sense of closure after the long period of mourning.”

According to Joanne Catron, Weber’s sister, the family selected JMRL as the beneficiary because they want to ensure the library can continue being the inspiration to others that it was to her brother.

“When not running, Philip was an enthusiastic reader and he had a passion for learning,” she says. After he graduated from UVA, he continued to read books about subjects he had studied in college, such as architecture, chemistry and music, but also began reading about horticulture, medicine and computer science and studying foreign languages.

Paavo’s Apostles’ goal is for 300 people to sign up for the race, which will begin and end on South Street East, next to Champion, the event’s primary sponsor. Registration is $40, and a post-race reception will be held at the brewery.

There is a registration limit, so runners are encouraged to sign up soon.

Runners can register here and volunteers can sign up to help here.