PARKERSBURG-It may not equal Neil Armstrong's feat, but when 27-year old Krystal Miller crosses Market Street finish line during the 27th News and Sentinel Half Marathon, it will be a 'first' for the 2004 Marietta High School graduate.
"It will be a cool experience," said Miller, a certified personal trainer at the YMCA. "I've never even watched the race before so this will be an entirely new experience for me."
Nearly 40 percent of the runners and walkers that will traverse the 13.1- mile course will compete in the international race for the first time.
Photo by Jim Butta
Krystal Miller, center, who serves as a personal trainer at the Parkersburg YMCA, watches Kim Toth, left, and Heather Hill during a training session. Miller will look to add the News and Sentinel Half Marathon to her list of accomplishments when she competes on Saturday, Aug. 17.
"I have been working with the River City Runners and Walkers Club and we just ran the entire course on Sunday (July 21)," Miller continued. "I was able to complete the course in just under two hours so I'm really excited to see just what I can do on race day."
Miller, who is certified by both the Cross Fit Level One and Olympic Lifting Committees, was going to compete in the 2012 event, but that attempt fell through.
"Yes, I was going to compete last year with a friend, but that didn't work out. My schedule this year, however, has allowed me to work out with the River City Runners and Walkers Club and that has really helped me prepare."
Prepare, but not get overconfident.
"I've talked to a lot of friends who have competed in the race and they have told me all of the stories about this part and that part of the course that I need to be concerned about. And, I've done a few races, such as the Jingle Bell and Turkey Trot 5Ks, to prepare. But, this will be my first half marathon so, obviously, I have my concerns."
With more than 700 runners and walkers signed up for the 8 a.m. start on Juliana Street, Miller probably will find herself surrounded by individuals with similar concerns.
"We normally see around 30-40 percent of our entries as being first time runners or walkers," said race coordinator Lindsey Spanner. "Some will be competing in their first-ever half while others may be coming to our race for the first time."
Whatever the reason, competitors will face a course that has changed very little since the race's inception in 1987. The course will take runners out W.Va. 50, then to Marrtown Road, Gihon Road, Rayon Drive and Camden Avenue before winding back into downtown.
"Now that I've run the training run, I'm okay," Miller said. "As long as I can keep my pace, then I should be able to meet my goal."
Miller, who takes private lessons at Gymniks Gymnastics, has been a personal trainer for more than a decade, serving at the position at the YMCA for the past two years. Prior to that she served at the same position at the Marietta YMCA.
"It's high intensity training," Miller explained. "We do 1 to 4 miles of high intensity. When my goal became to run the half marathon, we began upping my mileage."
Applications for this year's race still are be accepted. Individuals can sign up for the half as well as the 2-mile, and youth races at NewsandSentinelHalfMarathon.com. Applications will also be accepted on Friday, Aug. 16, at the Parkersburg Municipal Building from 2 until 9 p.m.
Weather conditions, which have forced the delay in work at the old Stadium Field site, now have forced race coordinator Marchell Allman to move the races to Jackson Middle School. The Erickson All-Sports Facility was expected to house the Tiny Tot and Junior Races, but the track's resurfacing project will not be completed by Aug. 18.
"Everything will stay the same except the location," Allman said. "Weather is the main reason. All the rain we have had in the area has caused the track resurfacing at Erickson to fall behind schedule."