PARKERSBURG - It was a first for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon.
On Saturday, the Rubertinos - Marge and Dominick, a married couple for 34 years from Mentor, Ohio - won Half Marathon race walk titles in both the women's and men's divisions.
Marge, 54, who took up race walking initially in 2007 "to lose weight," came in second in the Parkersburg event last year in her first try at it in a time of 2:23.17 - two minutes and 11 seconds off the winning time.
Photo by Steve Hemmelgarn
Dominick Rubertino and his wife Marge made News and Sentinel Half Marathon history on Saturday by being the first male and female to cross the finish line.
But Saturday, Marge won by almost a two-minute margin herself - 2:28.06 to 2:30.0 - over runner-up Sharon Alig, 45, of Barton, Ohio, not long after husband Dominick, 55, claimed the men's title in a time of 2:18.37.
In the overall race walk standings, Marge finished in sixth place and Alig was eighth.
Marge's weight-loss strategy "worked" after she joined Weight Watchers, since "you can earn more points if you exercise. So I took 60 pounds off by race walking,"
Dominick started in with Weight Watchers, and race walking, at the same time his wife did, although "he didn't have to lose weight, but supported me," said Marge. "And then he got better (in race walking) than me."
The Rubertinos got interested in coming to Parkersburg to race walk in the half marathon when they met some people from here at other races. "They said this was a nice one, to try it - so we did," said Marge. ''They do a good job here; it's very well run. I'd say it's one of the best for race walkers."
They said that "it's pretty hard walking," just as it is running, up the hills on the half marathon course. "Where we live, near Lake Erie and around Clevelsnd, it's pretty flat " said Dominick. "So this is pretty hilly for us, but we try to train on hils when we can to get ready for this."
Marge wasn't leading all the way Saturday, "but I think I started out a little too fast though," she admitted. "And it got me,"
Dominick said they "stayed together for about the first six miles," which, Marge added, "was probably a little too fast for me."
But Marge regrouped after that and went on to notch her first-ever race walk win.
At one point, "I wasn't sure who was in the lead," said Marge. "But one of the bikers told me I was, maybe around (mile) seven or eight. So I applied the pressure and decided to keep moving, because I was expecting anybody at any second to come flying by."