Volunteer a source of encouragement Half Marathon runners, walkers

Photo by Art Smith Kevin Barr gives runners high fives as they round a turn near the end of mile three of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon. After running up hill for over a mile, the racers enjoy the encouragement.

PARKERSBURG — Volunteer Kevin Barr has been a welcome fixture in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon for more than a dozen years, offering a friendly smile and words of encouragement to runners and walkers alike.

Barr has stood between the second- and third-mile markers of the race, which comes after a more than 1-mile uphill run, since the route was changed slightly several years ago.

“This is my 13th or 14th year” at that location, he said. “They had to put in this little dogleg, and my responsibility was to make sure they go around me.

“I’ve done it every year since. (Race organizers) don’t even call me anymore. I’m just expected to be there.”

Barr said while the spot was located relatively early in the 13.1-mile course, he took the opportunity to make it his own.

“I try to give everyone a high five or some words of encouragement, walkers and runners included,” he said. “I’ve gotten several comments, people appreciative I was there to cheer them on a bit.

“That makes me feel good. It makes me feel like part of the marathon. I look forward to it every year.”

But Barr said he tries not to interrupt the high-performance runners, who come from far away, including other countries, to run in the race.

“To me, they are on a mission,” Barr said. “They are here on business.”

The 54-year-old Barr lives in Washington Bottom and works security at Camden Clark Medical Center. He’s volunteered with the Half Marathon since it began, doing a variety of jobs. He also works as a patient transporter, both for Camden Clark and at the race.

“I love doing that job,” Barr said.

Even more than the race itself, Barr said he prizes the camaraderie of working with a dedicated group of volunteers.

“It’s like a reunion every year,” he said. “Everyone gets together and has fun.”

COMMENTS