PARKERSBURG -Big participation numbers.
Near perfect weather.
A repeat winner who broke his own course record.
Those were just some of the many highlights that took place on Saturday as the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon celebrated its 25th year.
More than 1,000 participants took off from the Juliana Street starting line but none of the other competitors could keep up with defending champion Julius Kogo of Kenya. The 26-year-old broke his own course record, finishing the 13.1-mile race in 1 hour, 1 minute and 46.87 seconds, nearly two minutes better than runner-up and fellow Kenyan Julius Koskei.
Winning the women's race was 29-year-old Malika Mejdoub of Morocco, who was making her Parkersburg debut. Mejdoub didn't show her hand until late in the race, using the 13th Street Hill to her advantage and blowing past runner-up Yihunlish Deleleecha of Ethiopia. Mejdoub finished in 1 hour, 14 minutes and 44.99 seconds, about 17 seconds ahead of Deleleecha.
The start of the Half
The half marathon saw 894 runners and 137 walkers finish the race, which witnessed a few dropouts due to fatigue. Although there were no clouds to hide the morning sun, only those who were on the course for more than two hours felt its full brunt as the heat stayed away for most of the race.
Winning the half marathon walk was 39-year-old Carl Kondrach of Barnesville, Ohio, a race director who ended the three-year reign of Don Slusser of Monroeville, Pa., who finished 3 minutes and 3 seconds behind Kondrach's winning time of 2 hours, 9 minutes and 36 seconds. Tena Harper, a 50-year-old Belpre resident, captured her first career win in the women's walk, finishing in 2 hours, 24 minutes and 19 seconds, ending the three-year title run of Kathy Ervin of Quaker City, Ohio.
The two-mile race also drew big numbers and produced good storylines as 599 runners and 134 walkers crossed the finish line on Market Street.
The first to do that was Ohio University cross country and track standout Tyler Cantley, who won the race for the fifth straight year, completing the distance in 9 minutes and 40.23 seconds, one second slower than his winning time of a year ago. Cantley continued the phenomenal streak of a Warren High School graduate winning the race for the 11th straight year. Jason Linton, who also ran for Warren and Ohio University, won six times before Cantley started dominating the field.
Next year, Cantley has a chance to tie Linton's record. He promises he will be in Parkersburg to make that attempt.
Winning the female 2-mile competition was 15-year Kaylee Williams of Parkersburg High School, who finished in 13 minutes, 39 seconds.
In the 2-mile walk competition, 45-year-old Richard Shea of Marietta broke the tape in 19:36 while 56-year-old Carol Seely of Vienna won the women's division in 20:04.91.