PARKERSBURG -Of all the many scenes and sights that took place at the finish line of Saturday's News and Sentinel Half Marathon, none was more memorable than when former Parkersburg resident Darren Marks ended his 13.1-mile journey.
While the other runners were wearing as few clothes as was legally possible in an effort to help beat the morning heat and humidity, Marks laced up a pair of boots and threw a 40-pound backpack around his neck.
Marks, a former Parkersburg High School athlete, said he wasn't necessarily doing it as a tribute to the military, but he noted that his wife, Amber Hammell Marks, serves in the United States Army, where her specialty is logistics. She is taking courses to advance her military career at Fort Lee, Va. The Marks family recently moved from Oklahoma to Virginia.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Darren Marks, a former Parkersburg High School athlete, ran the News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Saturday wearing boots and carrying a 40-pound backpack.
Fitness buffs, Darren and Amber often participate in road races together. They've run the Oklahoma City Half Marathon and they have even done full marathons.
But they've never witnessed a race as well organized or had as much fun as they do when they come to Parkersbuirg for the News and Sentinel Half Marathon.
"I'm really proud of Parkersburg,'' Darren Marks said. "This race is just as good as any we've run in bigger cities. The water stops are great. The town really goes all-out.''
Marks has completed the Parkersburg course in 1 hour, 52 minutes. Obviously, he didn't do that on Saturday as he gave himself too much of a handicap, but still managed to finish the 13.1-mile event in a respectable 2 hours and 32 minutes.
Marks originally had planned to run the race alongside director Chip Allman, but Allman got caught up in his duties as the race's administrator and was unable to participate.
So Marks went to plan B - as in backpack and boots.
Marks has another family connection with the race. His mother, Sharon Marks is the director of the 2-mile that takes place 10 minutes after the start of the half marathon. And his sister, Diane, is an active member of the local race community.
Darren Marks is a former PHS standout in wrestling and track and served as an assistant wrestling coach for PHS. He and Amber were married in December 2007.