GAP relay

Courtesy of Chris Buckley

Chris Buckley and his son, Timmy, finish the Greater Allegheny Passage Trail Relay.

When most runners engage in their favorite form of exercise, they do so early in the morning, before the obligations of the day begin, or in the evening, after those obligations are largely completed.

Chris Buckley, however, ran in the dead of night this past weekend.

“That’s very surreal,” he said.

The Forward Township resident and senior communications representative for Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services was out hitting the pavement in the dead of night as a participant in the Greater Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail Relay, a 150-mile race that stretches over two days and follows the Great Allegheny Passage from Cumberland, Md., to Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood.

Buckley ran as part of a team of runners primarily based in Washington County that is dedicated to raising money for autism awareness called Autism Runs. Aside from running in darkness, the race was also special for Buckley since it gave him the opportunity to run with his 28-year-old son, Timmy, who is autistic.

Timmy joined his father in the last part of his run. His wife brought him to the Hot Metal Bridge on Saturday morning. Although the younger Buckley is mostly nonverbal, “his eyes told me he understood the significance of the event,” Buckley said.

He added, “We’re blaming the rain for the fact that there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd ... especially me.”

A dedicated runner, Buckley runs about 40 to 50 miles per week, which translates to more than 2,000 miles per year. In 2017, Buckley ran the Boston Marathon, the premier event for runners. All told, he has run in 135 races, including 29 half or full marathons.

Other Washington County participants in Autism Runs include Adam Resosky of New Eagle; Mike Melvin of Carroll Township; Stephanie Beisheim of Peters Township, and Julie Matrsich of North Charleroi.

The GAP Trail Relay is the creation of P3R, the parent company of the Pittsburgh Marathon and other races. The 150-mile race consisted of 24 legs, with teams of eight runners apiece, and each team ran in a portion of the trail.

Staff Writer

Brad Hundt came to the Observer-Reporter in 1998 after stints at newspapers in Georgia and Michigan. He serves as editorial page editor, and has covered the arts and entertainment and worked as a municipal beat reporter.

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