The News and Sentinel Half Marathon is a year older today, but it never gets old.
It's our favorite sports event of the year.
Why? Let me count the ways.
Start with renewing acquaintances.
By the time today is over, I'll likely encounter 100 or more people I haven't seen since last year's race.
No race gets as many repeat customers as does ours.
It's the first race many mark on their annual racing calendar.
They come from Pennsylvania, South Carolina and throughout the eastern United States to run in a hot August race in a small West Virginia town.
And they wouldn't miss it.
Why? Because of the other things we love about the race.
On Friday night, all the competitors were treated to a pasta dinner. A dinner that turns into a reunion.
This morning, they will see how all-out Parkersburg goes to give them a memorable experience.
It begins with the start of the race, which takes place on Juliana Street. When the American flag is draped over the Oil & Gas Museum and the national anthem is played by musicians located on various downtown rooftops, more than a few tears are shed.
Once the race starts, competitors are greeted at every mile by water stops. Not only does that represent more water stops than they find at every other race, but those who man the water stops go all-out to make theirs the best water stop on the course.
You never what theme they will choose. This being an Olympic year, you can bet there will be an Olympic arch somewhere on the course.
Oh yeah, the course. It's tough. It's fair. Yes, the 13th Street hill is still there. But once you conquer it, it's all downhill from there.
Once you get near the finish line, get ready to have your name blared over the loudspeaker and listen for the cheers of the crowd, whether you finish first or 974th.
The race may end when the final competitor crosses the finish line but the hospitality continues.
First, there is the pizza luncheon. Then comes the awards ceremony conducted in the Smoot Theater.
Parkersburg also takes care of those who for whatever reason can't complete a 13.1-mile course by offering the Two-Miler.
You can treat the Two-Miler any way you want. If you're a college or high school hotshot, you can try to stop Tyler Cantley from winning the race for a record-tying sixth straight year (Good luck -you'll need it.)
If you just want to be a part of an international event, sign up and walk the course. Who knows, you might win your age group and take home a trophy.
On Sunday, it's time for the children to shine in the spotlight on the track at Stadium Field, where the Junior Races and Tiny Tot Trot will take place.
No town goes as all-out as does Parkersburg.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org