PARKERSBURG-The most dominant runner in the history of the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon will be returning on Saturday, Aug. 16, in search of his fifth straight championship.
Kenyan Julius Kogo will be among the field that toes the starting line for the 8 a.m. race that will crown the national champion for the Road Runners Club of America.
“I hope all is well,” said Ben Kurgat, Kogo’s agent. “As always, (Julius) Kogo is looking forward to defending his title at your great race-he loves those hills.”
Following a top five finish in 2009, Kogo made his next NSHM a successful one by breaking the 1990 course record of 1 hour, 2 minutes and 55 seconds established by countryman Steve Kogo. He covered the 13.1-mile race in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 8 seconds to defeat runnerup Reid Coolsact (1:03:46) by 98 seconds.
Little did anyone in attendance at that race realize what was yet to take place.
The following year, the now-26 year old Kogo lowered his own mark when he broke the 62-minute barrier. His time of 1 hour, 1 minute and 47 seconds was nearly two minutes faster than runnerup Julius Koskei (1:03:41).
Even that accomplishment would pale in comparison to what he would do 12 months later.
With 3-time champion Alene Reta returning for the first time since his championship in the 2009 race, fans were going to get to witness the winner of the last five half marathons.
The showdown didn’t last long, however, as Kogo broke away midway through the race and then held off Reta down the stretch on Market Street, winning with a time of 1 hour, 3 minutes and 36 seconds.
All that was left for the Kenyan to accomplish was to become the race’s all-time leader in victories, which he accomplished last year by holding off runnerup Aschalew Mekete (1:03:32) and Koskei (1:03:44) to win for the fourth consecutive time with a clocking of 1 hour, 2 minutes and 7 seconds.
Kogo won’t be the only runner that Kurgat will be bringing to Parkersburg. Kenyans Simion Chirchir, Kiprono Kurgat, Betram Keter, Susan Jerotich, Sophy Jepchirchir and Joyce Kandie will also be in town for the 28th edition of the race.
Chirchir, who has a personal best of 1 hour, 3 minutes and 35 seconds at the distance, is coming off of a second place effort at the 2014 Kentucky Derby Half Marathon while Kurgat returns after winning the 20-24 year old age group last year in a time of 1:03:54.5.
Adding even more depth to a talented women’s field will be Jepchirchir, who set the course record at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, Kandie. Both have covered the distance in 1 hour and 11 minutes while Jerotich posted a personal best of 1 hour and 13 minutes at the Shamrock Half Marathon.
Competitors in both the Half Marathon as well as the 2-Mile Run and Kids Races can still register online at NewsandSentinelHalfMarathon.com or mail their applications to The Parkersburg News and Sentinel, 519 Juliana Street, Parkersburg, WV 26101.