Following the first #running4rob virtual run in April of 2019, Rob Liebers, from his hospital bed, penned a thank you note to each and every participant. That virtual run had served as a fundraiser for the former Linton High School and University of Rochester track and cross country participant, who, at the time, was waging a battle with a rare form of cancer.
“He was hearing about the race all day. People were texting him. He was texting back,” said Niskayuna resident Emily Titsworth, Lieber’s younger sister. “After the race, he sent everyone a note, and that was so cool.”
Liebers was a cool guy, the kind of guy who would send out over 300 thank you notes, surprise his four children and many nieces and nephews with socks and running shoes that fit just right and lend his support and knowledge of the sport to competitors of every age and ability.
“He threw himself into it,” Titsworth said. “He did it all volunteer.”
A second #running4rob One Mile Virtual Run will be held Saturday and Sunday, this one to back a memorial fund that has been established in Liebers’ memory. The longtime attorney and Jamestown resident died last September at the age of 61.
“Father’s Day was our inspiration,” Titsworth said.
“As a person, he was top shelf. As good as they come,” said Bob Pezzano, who taught special education at Linton during Lieber’s time there and oversees the Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame. “Just a wonderful guy.”
Though Liebers spent many years working in Western New York, he would often find his way back to the Electric City for family functions and athletic events.
“Even though he moved out of the area, he enjoyed and appreciated the history of running in this area,” Pezzano said of the 1975 Linton graduate. “Two years ago, he came to the hall of fame dinner and he later emailed me about how much fun he had. He even sent me an article about William Eddy and the history of running in Schenectady.”
Pezzano was preparing for the hall of fame dinner and ceremony the day Liebers passed away Sept. 16.
“That hit me hard,” Pezzano said. “We were setting up when I got the call. What a tremendous person. Great family. Great guy, and what a passion for running.”
“He would be online watching time trials and following a marathon at the same time,” Titsworth said.
Liebers had achieved a national ranking in several distances as a Masters competitor after reviving his career, and locally, he ran in the Stockade-athon and Cardiac Classic many times.
“On his 40th birthday, he decided he was going to get back in shape, and he became a great Masters runner,” Titsworth said. “His focus was on the mile, and his goal was to run it under five minutes. He came really close.”
“He went to meets all over the place,” said Liebers’ brother, Schenectady resident Don Liebers. “In the spring of 2018, he planned to run in the 5th Avenue Mile. He thought he had a good shot to win it, but never got the chance.”
Liebers served on the Board of Directors of the Chautauqua Striders Track Club from 1999-2018, serving as president for two terms, and was secretary of the USA Track and Field Niagara Association for many years. He had close ties with the Maple Grove High School cross country and track teams.
“All of the coaches out there knew him, and some kids would seek him out,” Don Liebers said. “I recall there being some girls who wanted to get to the state meet, and after working with Rob, they did. He was always willing to help and he did great work.”
The memorial fund in Rob Liebers’ memory is being handled through the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. The #running4rob One Mile Virtual Run registration is $10, with all proceeds going towards the memorial fund.
“Very appropriate,” Pezzano said of the memorial fund. “If the Liebers are behind it, I am sure it is being done with class.”
Virtual run information can be found at