Breaking the Tape

The News and Sentinel Half Marathon, which served as the national championship race for the Road Runners Club of America from 2005 to 2010, has regained that prestigious designation for 2015.

“I’m really happy,” said race director Chip Allman upon learning the news. “It puts our area on the national running map.”

Parkersburg was one of several cities bidding on the national championship, which most recently belonged to Arlington, Va.

During its recent meeting in Spokane, Wash., RRCA members decided to return its national title to Parkersburg.

“It was close,” said Allman. “The deciding factor was that we offer prize money and Arlington doesn’t.”

The RRCA designation not only means the men’s and women’s winners of the 2015 race will be the official national champions, but it also means that elite runners who want to contend for that prestigious title will be coming here.

The timing couldn’t be better as the 2015 race will be one of the major summer tests in a year prior to the Olympics, perhaps giving the field another boost.

Allman will be curious to see if any of the runners the American championship attracts will be able to dethrone Julius Kogo of Kenya, who has won the race each of the last four years, including the last time the RRCA designated the local race as the national championship. He set the course record in 2010, then broke his own standard in last year’s race, finishing in one hour, two minutes and seven seconds.

Allman said he already has received inquiries from those wanting to be a part of the elite field for this year’s race. That, he said, is a bit unusual, as he seldom gets such contacts before June of most years.

Representing Parkersburg at the Spokane meeting was Tom Kramer, who figured it would come down to Parkersburg and Arlington. Kramer told Allman it was a close decision, but given Parkersburg’s past history with the RRCA and the fact it offered prize money, it got the nod.