PARKERSBURG - The 24th running of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Saturday encompasses a lot more than just 13.1 miles.
After all, there's both the two-mile run/walk early Saturday morning along with the annual Tiny Tot Trot and Junior Races on Sunday afternoon at Parkersburg's Stadium Field.
Even though a lot of attention is paid to the half marathon, and rightfully so, fifth-year two-mile race director Sharon Marks said the first step to a healthy lifestyle is deciding to do something. For a lot of people, that might mean coming out for the first time and putting in a couple miles at this event.
"Every year we try to improve the two-mile and it's a family race," said Marks, who has been involved with the two-mile race for nearly a decade.
"It's a fun race, a walk or a run. It's still quite an accomplishment if you are coming from the couch or an inactive lifestyle, running or walking, to finish because it's still two miles."
Members of the committee for the half marathon spent early Tuesday evening putting a fresh coat of paint on the finish line.
The two-mile race is run five minutes after the News and Sentinel Half Marathon. It uses the same start and finish line.
Marks said everything has gone pretty smooth this year and the biggest thing they've done is increase the amount of ice they will have at the finish line to try and keep everyone cool after the races.
"We just have to wait and see what the weather does and see how humid it's going to be," said Marks, noting they still might increase it more if they feel the weather is going to be rough.
One thing which has been helpful for the Tiny Tot Trot and the Junior Races has been pretty good weather. However, director Mona Moore knows there will be a chance of precipitation this year.
"The biggest thing is the weather and that's out of my control," Moore said. "So far Mother Nature has been pretty good to us."
Races begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday with the 1-year-old boys and will continue throughout the afternoon for children up to the age of 11.
As of Tuesday evening, there were more than 100 youth registered for the Sunday races. However, most of the children sign up the day of the race at Stadium Field.
"Last year we surpassed a lot of expectations," Moore added. "It was the largest crowd we ever had."
Whether or not the youth races can reach the 400-plus mark again remains to be seen, but Moore is anxious to find out. She credits the volunteers for the success the youth races have had throughout the years.
"As long as the volunteers are there, the race happens," said Moore, who added she actually missed last year's races because she had to leave before they started due to her heart condition acting up. "That group of volunteers never missed a beat. That says a lot about our community.
"The volunteers who come out from the running club, the newspaper, the cross country team at PHS down to the janitor at the high school, we get treated so well there and that says a lot about the area."
The cost to enter a youth race is just $5 and anyone interested in running or walking the two-mile has to have their $18 entry fee paid by Friday, which can be done at the newspaper or from 2-9 p.m. on Friday at the Parkersburg Municipal Building.