PARKERSBURG - More than 1,000 runners and walkers from almost 30 states and more than five countries are training this summer in anticipation of the 28th annual Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon in Parkersburg, W.Va., this August.
The 2014 News and Sentinel Half Marathon is scheduled for Aug. 16, and coincides with the Parkersburg Homecoming, which features live music, among other events. It is the largest sporting event in the Parkersburg area in terms of event size, number of participants and length of race. This year it is the Road Runners Club of America W.Va. State Championship.
"If you are running the News and Sentinel Half Marathon in 2014, you will be running with some of the best athletes in the world," explained Chip Allman, who has been race director of The News and Sentinel races since 2006. The half marathon welcomes elite athletes each year from across the United States and other countries, in addition to outstanding local runners.
Participants have the option of either running or walking the 13.1-mile course, which moves from the commercial area of Parkersburg to its scenic surroundings before looping downtown to the finish line.
Local race walker Donna Graham joined the race committee in 2011 after first walking the race in 2006. "I loved race walking these races for five years, so I decided in 2011 that I would volunteer to help build the walk divisions so that more people might come out and give walking and race walking a try," she said. "My main goal has been to make the races fair to all-from beginners to advanced walkers."
The half marathon began in 1987 and later expanded to include a Two Mile Race, Junior Races and Tiny Tot Trot. The Parkersburg News and Sentinel became the lead sponsor of the event in 2002.
The News and Sentinel Two Mile Race attracts more than 900 participants each year, mostly recreational runners and teenagers from the Parkersburg and Marietta area. Like the half marathon, participants in the Two-Mile have the option of either running or walking the course. The course travels through the historical Julia-Ann district and downtown Parkersburg. The race begins at 8:10 a.m. Aug. 16.
The kids' races consist of a series of age-based Junior Races for children aged 6-11 and a Tiny Tot Trot for children age 5 and under. Approximately 300 area families participate in the kids' races each year. The 2014 kids races begin on the afternoon of Aug. 17. This year's kids' races will be held at Parkersburg High School's Stadium Field.
Trophies and prize money are awarded each year to the top four overall winners in the men's and women's divisions of the half marathon. Additionally, prize money is awarded to the top three winners in each age group with a trophy for fourth and fifth place in each age group. Racers also compete for trophies in several other categories: Clydesdale class, Athena class, masters, grand masters, senior grand masters and wheelchair. All finishers of the half marathon receive a medallion.
Trophies and medals are also available to participants of the Two Mile Race, Junior Races and Tiny Tot Trot. Each participant in the event receives a race T-shirt, a race bib and a bag with donations and coupons from the event's sponsors.
Allman believes The News and Sentinel Races are some of the best-organized races in the country. He is referring to the 17 fluid stations on the course, the bike patrol and the medical aid personnel. Half marathon racers are also treated to a pre-race pasta dinner from 4:30-9 p.m. Aug. 15 at St. Francis Xavier Parish Hall in downtown Parkersburg near the finish line. Half marathon participants receive free entry and two-milers and family members of participants may attend for a fee. There is also a post-race pizza luncheon on Aug 16 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the hall. The meals are a great opportunity for race participants to meet their fellow runners and walkers.
More than 1,400 people are involved in making the races a successful event that participants look forward to year after year.
For more information and to register for all races visit newsandsentinelhalfmarathon.com