PARKERSBURG - Been thinking about participating in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon or the Two-Mile Race? Or entering your children in the Tiny Tot Trot or Junior Races?
You still have time to be a part of the biggest sports weekend of the year in Parkersburg.
Registration for Saturday's Half Marathon and Two Mile is available online at newsandsentinelhalfmarathon.com as well as in person at the Runners Expo from 2 to 9 p.m. on Friday at the Parkersburg Municipal Building.
Registration for Sunday's races for children 11 and under will be conducted at Stadium Field beginning at 11 a.m. and continuing up until the running of the first race at 1 p.m.
The News and Sentinel Half Marathon once again has attracted a strong international field for the 13.1-mile race that gets under way on Juliana Street across from Towne Square and ends on Market Street near its intersection with Sixth Street. In between those two downtown locations, runners and walkers get a tour of the community from the historic Julia-Ann District to the rolling hills along Gihon Road to the industrial area on Camden Avenue and finally the glorious run down Market Street to the finish line. The course crosses both the Juliana Street and Fifth Street bridges.
This year's half marathon is highlighted by the return of four-time defending champion Julius Kogo of Kenya, who has turned the race into his personal domain.
But Kogo's intimidating presence hasn't hindered other quality runners from challenging his mastery of the race. Race director Chip Allman has put together a star-studded field -including several of Kogo's fellow Kenyans as well a number of accomplished Ethiopian runners -that should present a challenge to Kogo. Perhaps the top challenger is Merkebu Ayele Birke of Ethiopia.
Allman also is proud of the quality of the women's field, which received a considerable boost when the race was selected as the national half marathon championship of the Road Runners Club of America.
"The field is as strong as it has ever been,'' Allman said. It includes the current United States Association of Track and Field half marathon champion Serena Burla as well as Kenyans Cynthia Limo and Caroline Kiptoo.
The two mile -after being won for a dozen straight years by Warren graduates Jason Linton and Tyler Cantley -who each won six -was won last year by Matthew Brafford, the West Virginia state cross country champion from George Washington High School. Traditionally, several high school cross country squads use the race as a preseason training session.
Many of those who enter the Two-Mile Race do it for the exercise and the comradery. Some make it a family affair with mom, dad and children crossing the finish line simultaneously.
Once Saturday's races are over, the scene shifts to Stadium Field for the kids races, which take place either on the football field or the all-weather track. Participants are grouped by age from 1 to 11. All participants receive a medal.