It's hard to believe, but by this time next week most Mid-Ohio Valley high schools will have played their first football game of the season and the annual News and Sentinel Half Marathon will be over for another year.
A lot of work goes into coordinating and preparing for the half marathon, much of which is done by the race committee, Art Smith of The News and Sentinel and Lindsey Spanner, the race coordinator.
Art would be the first to admit the last week before the race is hectic on everyone involved ... to the point that some of the previous race coordinators were nearly physically ill from the stress of all those last-minute details that have to be nailed down to handle an event involving thousands of race participants, race volunteers, race sponsors, race security and race spectators lining the more than 13-mile course.
And then all that planning, coordinating and effort can go out the window based on weather conditions. Since The News and Sentinel has been involved in the race, it has never been canceled, but it has had its weather challenges. A few years ago, race day was so hot and humid that many runners needed first aid after they nearly collapsed crossing the finish line and a few had to be taken to Camden Clark Medical Center for treatment. Others did not finish the race because of the heat's toll on their bodies.
Yes, a lot of work goes into getting ready for the race, feeding the racers, making sure there are water stops for the racers, staging the race, awarding prizes and then cleaning up miles of race course after the nationally acclaimed event. It's far from being a one-morning slice in time.
A lot of work also goes into producing the annual award-winning Pigskin Preview, which will appear in this Thursday's edition of The News and Sentinel/Marietta A.M.
The newspaper's sports staff has been busy for weeks interviewing players and coaches, taking team photos and gathering schedules for the football season, which for most schools starts Friday night.
Considering the more than 35 high schools and colleges the sports department will preview in the 176-page tabloid edition, it's a monumental task for a staff the size of ours, which is another reason our peers respect the effort and show that respect by always judging it favorably in the West Virginia Press Association better newspaper contest.
Again this year, the Pigskin Preview, under the leadership of sports editor Dave Poe, designer Eddie Thomas and the reporting staff of Jim Butta, Kerry Patrick, Steve Hemmelgarn and Jay Bennett, won first place in the best sports section category in the highly competitive WVPA contest.
Many of our peers merely look at the edition and shake their heads as to how the staff can put together such a large and all-encompassing edition, which for many of our readers is what they use throughout the football season to track their favorite teams and preview opponents.
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While talking about projects and programs, don't forget to keep Sept. 19 open to attend the Army Field Band concert in Stadium Field House.
The News and Sentinel is sponsoring the concert, with the cooperation of Parkersburg High School. An announcement on how to receive free tickets for the concert will be in the newspaper within the next couple of weeks.