Local runner Joe LoBiondo crosses his final finish line

February 16, 2024

Local runner, businessman, husband, father and grandfather Joe LoBiondo crossed his final finish line early this week after fighting a tough battle the last several years.

Joe and I go back into the early ’80s when I arrived at Cape, and he used to come and run with us for our weekend outings and summer speed sessions at the Cape track. We traveled and did a lot of races together up and down the East Coast in the ’80s and early ’90s. I remember piling in the back of a Fredman van with Joe, Pete, Ray, TC and some others, and heading to the Broad Street 10-Miler in the late ’80s. All you had to do was mention a race or a challenge to Joe, and he was in.

Joe was a big part of my business when I started in 1991, as he was my setup guy, and he would usually get to the event before me 5 a.m. and say to me, “What took you so long?” I could call Joe at any time that I needed him, and he was ready to go.

I remember when I was notified that I was being inducted into the Delaware State Sports Hall of Fame, Joe called and said to me, “Cherish every minute of this night and remember every mile you ran.”

Joe would come to see me when I was at Shields Elementary when he was visiting his grandchild. When he walked through my door, I knew to throw the basketballs out because there was no teaching when he was there. He was going to tell me what he was into, what meeting he was going to next, and who was playing games in the district. He took his visitor pass one day that had his name on it and he stuck it on my door, laughed and said, “Now you won’t forget me.” The visitor pass remained on my door for my final five years; I looked at his name every day when I came to work.

Joe’s son Jon student taught with me, and I have followed Joe’s daughter Jodi since her track days at Cape. Then she started teaching with me at Shields and LES. I am sure Jodi got tired of me asking every week how her parents were. My wife Monique was Jodi’s son’s teacher at Bethel preschool.

The Lobo family has been a big part of mine here in Muppetland, and Joe’s memory and spirit will live on with me in every race I produce and every challenge I face. RIP Big Joe LoBiondo.

Finish chute

I thought I would feature a few of the races and milestones Joe completed in his running and endurance career, which included 12 to 15 marathons. Joe, a graduate of Boston College in 1967, completed marathons, ultra marathons and century rides for 35 years. Joe was not a speedster by any means, but what he lacked in speed, he sure made up for it with his pure toughness – a characteristic that he instilled in all his children. 

November 1995 - Joe joined locals Jim Hutton, Ann Orr, Jim Bastian and Dave Gillan, along with thousands of runners, for the Marine Corps Marathon, better known as the People’s Marathon. Marine Corps was one of Joe’s favorites to compete in. Joe crossed the line in 4:45:00.

April 1998 - The Grove Club, the Tuesday evening walking and jogging club started in 1994 by Bob Porter and me, celebrated its 200th meeting at Grove Park. After a short workout, the participants celebrated with the famous low-fat Doris Hicks double chocolate brownie cake. The top 10 participants were announced, which included Joe LoBiondo. 1. Bob Porter, 196; 2. Doris Hicks, 145; 3. Jim Bastian, 133; 4. Gifford King, 105; 5. Pauline Porter, 103; 6. Joe LoBiondo, 95; 7. Patrice Riggin, 77; 8. Matt Riggin, 71; 9. Diane Donohue, 57; 10. Jan LoBiondo, 56. 

October 2000 - Joe again joined 25,000 runners for the Marine Corps Marathon along with a Seashore Striders team of runners from the local area. The runners wore new purple singlets and celebrated the following Tuesday as I made a purple-and-yellow cake with each of their names on it. It was the first marathon for locals Margaret Colvin, Arleen LaPorte and Doris Hicks, who joined Chuck and Fran Donaway, Rusty LaPorte and Joe. Joe said back then that it was his final marathon, and he finished with Hicks in 4:37:39 and ran for the St. Jude’s team as the group raised $232,000.  

October 2001 - The first Baltimore Marathon from PSI Stadium attracted 6,500 runners, including 68 from Delaware with, of course, Joe LoBiondo in the field. Joe loved to compete in inaugural events. The course climbed hills from mile 4 to mile 21, and Joe ran this special race with his daughter Jodi. Joe and Jodi ran 5:11:52, as Jodi was competing for Team in Training. At mile 22, with Jodi not feeling the best, she ran past a group of spectators and recognized the buddy she was matched with, whom she had never met. Jodi and Joe spent some time talking with the family and taking photos. It was an emotional moment of motivation that Jodi needed to get to the finish line with her dad.

November 2003 - Joe completes the tough JFK 50-Miler, and I remember he came home and told me, “At 10 hours, I was done, but there was no way I was not going to finish this race. Even if I had to crawl across the finish line.” I do believe it was his famous “Goji” juice that got him through this race, as Joe finished in 12:26:19.

March 2005 - “Hey, Joe, let’s go run 31 miles, and better yet, let’s throw in some trails, hills, rocks and streams to cross.” Joe, along with Chuck and Fran Donaway, competed in the Hat Run 50K with 407 starters and 355 finishers. Joe finished 351st in 8:29:28. Joe fell into a stream at mile 2 and had to run the remaining 14 miles to the first checkpoint in cold, wet clothes. The Hat Run is one of the toughest 50K races around.

November 2006 - Joe competed in the OBX Marathon in the Outer Banks, N.C., along with Fran and Chuck Donaway, and ran 5:48:17. Locals Paul Timmons and Mike Sewell also competed.


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