An educator for 41 years, Fulton passed away in February 2012 after battling brain cancer.
Family, friends and former co-workers created Hit the Dusty Trail Duathlon: Send Cancer Packing as a way to celebrate Fulton's love of running and cycling as well as his zest for life. All proceeds raised will go to regional cancer related endeavors through the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.
The duathlon will be held from 7:30 a.m. until noon on Aug. 17 along the Great Allegheny Passage in Meyersdale. Participants will either complete a 4 mile run, 21 mile bike ride and 2 mile run or a 2 mile walk, 21 mile bike ride and 1 mile walk.
The Great Allegheny Passage is a rail (bike or walk only) trail composed of a packed crushed limestone surface having less than a 1 percent average grade. The duathlon crosses the expansive Salisbury Viaduct, the Eastern Continental Divide, the Big Savage lighted tunnel nearly one mile in length and offers majestic views of southwestern Pennsylvania's scenic mountains.
"This is something Somerset County doesn't have," committee member Jenny Shank said Saturday before riding the trail. "Most people have never even heard of a duathlon. It combines two of the things Gary loved to do — running and cycling."
Brenda Chapple-Fulton, Gary's widow, explained the committee wanted to put the beautiful scenery surrounding the trail to use.
"Participants will see the viaduct, windmills, the Continental Divide and the Big Savage Tunnel — which the scenery is breathtaking when you come out if it. The mileage is based on what the trail had to offer. It is do-able for people of any athletic ability. They can run or walk and ride a bicycle."
Individuals or teams of two may register for the race. Registration can be done in three ways — online, by mail and the day of the race. If competing as a team, one person would do the foot challenge and the other the riding challenge.
"We hope to get 50 to 100 people registered," Shank said. "We have had a number of people show interest, even a number of his former students, but right now registration is slower than we hoped for."
Committee members said they believe once people have their summer vacation plans set, they will see registration numbers increase.
The event is scheduled for early in the morning for two reasons — to avoid the summer heat and free the trail up for other users.
There is lodging available in Meyersdale for participants coming from out of town.
Supporters and volunteers are welcome and encouraged to come out for the event.
"We are seeking volunteers as well as more sponsors," Chapple-Fulton said. "We have received support from some great sponsors, but we are always looking for more."
The group said that while the event is to honor Gary, they didn't want to focus on one specific type of cancer. They understand that all types of cancer affect individuals and families every day.
"Our main goal is for people to have a good experience while raising proceeds for regional cancer endeavors," Chapple-Fulton said. "It will help caretakers, hospice, research and others.
"Gary was always up for a challenge and this event is a challenge. He was an advocate of leading an active and healthy lifestyle."
Denise Spory added, "He was a big promoter of having a feel good attitude. He tried to make his students feel like they were a winner in every way. He was always encouraging them to make good decisions."
For more information or to register for the event go to hitthedustytrailduathlon.com.