PARKERSBURG-With the 28th annual Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon and 2-Mile races less than 24 hours away, registrations continue to pour into the office of Logistics Director Art Smith.
"We are over 1,500 for both races right now and we have more than 100 applications sitting here to be entered," Smith said. "This is pretty normal, however. We have a lot of people that will wait until the last moment to decide if they want to run or walk in the races."
To accommodate those individuals as well as to give those who already have entered a chance to pick up their race packet, Smith and his staff will be at the Parkersburg Municipal Building from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. today to register runners and walkers for both the half marathon and 2-mile races as well as the Kids Races, which will take place beginning at 1 p.m. at Parkersburg High School's Stadium Field on Sunday.
The elite field has grown to more than 50 with the additions of local standouts Brian Floyd, Amber Carter and Jocelyne Majoy, but could still expand if agents and their athletes show up for the final registration tonight.
Topping the list of male entrants will be four-time champion Julius Kogo. The 29-year-old became the first-ever four time winner last August when he held off Ethiopian Aschalew M. Neguse down the final miles to cross the Market Street finish line in a time of 1 hour, 2 minutes and 7.4 seconds.
The time was more than a minute slower than the course mark of 1 hour, 1 minute and 47 seconds established by Kogo in 2011, but nearly 90 seconds faster than Neguse, who covered the 13.1-miles in 1 hour, 3 minutes and 32.8 seconds.
On the women's side defending champion Konjit Biruk will not be in the field. But, that doesn't mean the race for the title won't be a challenging one.
"This may very well be the strongest women's field we've ever had," Race Coordinator Chip Allman said. "We have several outstanding women who can really make a push at the course record if the conditions are right."
Tops among those is 2011 champion Malika Mejdoub from Morocco, who made her first visit to the area a successful one by winning the race with a time of 1 hour, 14 minutes and 44 seconds.
The field includes eight women who have covered the distance in less than 71 minutes, topped by 24-year-old Kenyan Cynthia Limo's personal best of 1 hour, 9 minutes and 40 seconds.
In addition to taking home the first place prize of $3,000, the champion will be named the West Virginia Road Race of America champion. Other prize money includes $2,000 for second place, $1,500 for third and $1,000 for fourth places. The top United States runner will receive a $1,000 award with second place earning a $500 paycheck.
Money is also awarded to the top walkers with first place claiming a $200 prize while second and third receive $150 and $100, respectively.
Registration for the Kids Races also will take place at Stadium Field starting at 11 a.m. and ending just prior to the start of the first race. Runners and walkers in the half marathon will be treated to a pre-race pasta dinner beginning at 4:30 p.m. at St. Francis Xavier hall near the finish line and also will have a post-race pizza luncheon from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the same location on Saturday.