PARKERSBURG-The elite field has been set, but that does not mean that interested runners and walkers still can't sign up to participate in the 27th running of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon that begins at 8 a.m. Saturday on Juliana Street.
"We will be registering people beginning at 2 p.m. (on Friday)," Race Coordinator Lindsey Spanner said. "Registration will until 9."
Nearly 800 individuals have signed up to compete in the half while more than 300 have said they will be on hand for Saturday's 2-Mile Race, which begins 10 minutes following the start of the half marathon. Registration will take place at the Parkersburg Municipal Building at 1 Government Square.
"Our numbers are good," Logistics Director Art Smith said. "And, we expect them to increase before Saturday's race."
Among those already entered will be three-time men's champion Julius Kogo as well as American men's champion Josh Ordway, and both grand masters champions-John Brockenbrough and Sherri Martin.
Kogo, who set the course record of 1 hour, 1 minute and 48 seconds in 2011, will be looking to become the first four-time winner. Ethiopian Alene Reta won three straight from 2007 until 2009 while Kenyan Godfrey Kiprotich accomplished the feat in 1992, 94 and 95.
"The elite field is pretty well finalized," Race Director Chip Allman said. "I don't plan on any additions unless Alene (Reta) would call. The field looks to be a pretty good one with a lot of talented American runners."
Tops among that field is Ordway, who edged out runner-up Ridge Robinson by 98 seconds, winning in a time of 1 hour, 8 minutes and 5.2 seconds. Looking to replace the Franklin, Ohio native from the top will be 28-year old Brent Martin, who has run a personal best of 1:06, as well as 27-year old Patrick Cheptoek (1:04) from Bowling Green (KY), 36-year old Jared Abuya (1:02.59) from Colorado Springs (CO) and 31-year old Abdelaziz Atmani (1:03).
Looking to keep Kogo from winning his fourth in a row will be a solid field of international runners including Kenya's Fred Kosgei (1:00.59), Robert Mbithi (1:01.0), Julius Koskei (1:01.22), Eric Chirchuir (1:01), Lamech Mosoti (1:02) and Daniel Kipkoech (1:02.49) and Ethiopians Aschalew Neguse (1:01.37) and Mengistu Nebsi (1:01.3).
Last year's women's champion Asami Kato has not, to date, added her name to the list of returnees, but that doesn't mean the women's field will be without its share of standout performers.
Vienna's Brittany Schob will look to improve upon her runner-up finish as the race's top American. The 25-year old was edged out by 30-year old Emily Chaney 12 months ago, completing the 13.1-mile race in 1 hour, 29 minutes and 6.3 seconds.
Looking to take home the women's title will again be a solid group of international runners led by 29-year old Russian Lyudmila Stepanova, who has clocked a personal best of 1:14 at the distance, as well as Kenyans Divina Jepkogei, Gladys Tarus and Judy Chepsoiyo and Ethiopians Hirut Guangul, Debellu Gemechu, Waynishet Abebe and Almaz Fekade.
A pair of American runners looking to challenge for the top spot will be 31-year old Stephanie Pezzullo from Charlotte (NC) and 23-year old Aubrey Moskal, who runs out of Morgantown. The last American to win the title was Milena Glusac (1:12:13) from Fallbrook (CA) in 2001.