By Ryan Cornell
WINCHESTER -- Joe Lovinsky has less than two months to prepare for the longest run of his life.
Lovinsky, 50, will run 100 miles to raise scholarship money for current and future Shenandoah Conservatory French horn students.
The distance he's planning to run is the equivalent of running on Interstate 81 and Interstate 66 from Winchester to Front Royal and back, twice.
The first steps of his century run will take off at 7 a.m. March 28 around the Shenandoah University track. The run will continue through Saturday with some miles coming from a loop through Old Town Winchester and the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall.
An adjunct associate professor of French horn at the conservatory, Lovinsky said he experienced his own financial troubles while attending the Julliard School in New York.
He said he had tried running a 100-miler in 2011 and had reached 90 miles before fizzling out. That race was marked by hours of thunderstorms. This one, he's hoping, will see some better behaved weather.
It wasn't until recently that he decided to try again.
"I thought if I was going to do that, it needed a lot of preparing, a lot of strain on the body, so I thought I should do it for a cause," he said. "The first thing that came to my mind were the Shenandoah students here."
His goal through the "100 Mile Joe" campaign is to raise $5,000, all of which would be used for scholarships for the conservatory's French horn students.
"The way things are going now, I'm hoping we might go beyond that," he said.
The campaign officially launched on Wednesday and had raised more than $1,050 by Thursday afternoon.
Bob Larson, chair of the conservatory's instrumental division, said he was equally shocked and excited when he first heard of the professor's idea.
"My limit is three or four miles, and every time I do that now I think, 'Gosh, Joe would be going 97 more,'" he said.
Larson said the conservatory offers numerous scholarships to deserving students in music, dance and theater each year.
According to one of Lovinsky's French horn students, senior Sara Johnson, all of the French horn students currently enrolled at the conservatory have scholarships of varying degrees. She said she thinks the idea is awesome.
"I think we'll be able to attract more horn students and keep the horn students we attract with the scholarship," she said.
With a handful of weeks remaining until the big day, Lovinsky said he's been training hard.
"Everybody at the gym has gotten to know me," he said. "I'm on a first-name basis."
Lovinsky has played the French horn for 30 years, 20 of which were spent in the U.S. Army Band before retiring in July. He joined the Shenandoah faculty in the fall of 2012.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org