PARKERSBURG - Although hot weather isn't predicted for the 27th running of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Saturday, participants in the 13.1-mile race and even the 2-mile portion will have a great way to cool off their heels so to speak after they cross the finish line on Market Street.
Joe Leman, the director of sports medicine for Mountain River Physical Therapy, has been busy the last few months coordinating efforts to bring back the Cool Zone Tent.
In the past, HealthSouth used to provide a Cool Zone Tent, but that's when Leman worked there and pitched the idea. Recently, finishers of the race have not had that option and it was something Leman thought needed to become a permanent fixture.
"I approached the owner (of MRPT) Burt Reed about possibly sponsoring it and he really liked the idea and gave us the green light to approach the race committee and see if they wanted to bring it back," explained Lehman, who said there are about 20 sponsors for it this year.
"I talked to Chip (Allman) about it and he was excited for it to be a part of the race. We've been making preparations for about three to four months now, but the last two weeks we've made a lot of preparations."
The Cool Zone Tent, which will feature at least one Port-A-Cool fan, will be located in the United Bank parking lot. Leman said they are being provided by Grainger.
Another interesting facet of the cooling area will be the chance for anyone who competed in the race to win door prizes.
"We are going to give out 500 Cool Zone T-Shirts," Leman added. "If you enter the race you are automatically entered into the drawings. He have a lot of great prizes ranging from food gift cards like Olive Garden to iPods to heart rate monitors.
"We have a lot of nice stuff to give out. All of the businesses who contributed are on the back of the T-shirts. We want it to be an area that adds something to the race, adds value to the race and to the race committee's efforts."
While Leman will be the first to admit the job hasn't been too complicated, he's been very grateful to everyone in the Mid-Ohio Valley who has contributed to the effort. Obviously, the goal is to make the Cool Zone Tent, which will feature a disc jockey playing music this year, into something which only gets bigger and better from here on out.
"It's been a little bit of work," he said. "The community has been great and everyone we have approached has wanted to participate in some fashion.
"We want to help promote our businesses in town to local people, but we get a lot of people from out of town for the race and we want them to know it's a great city and we put on a nice event."