Women’s field looking strong

PARKERSBURG – It’s nowhere near completion, but the list of elite runners that will toe the Juliana Street starting line for the 28th News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Saturday, Aug. 16.

“This is just about the time when most of them (runners and walkers) get with me,” race director Chip Allman said. “Some of them tried to get with me earlier this month, but I asked them to wait until the end of June.”

That doesn’t mean that Allman and Logistics Director Art Smith haven’t been receiving entries.

Making their return to the Mid-Ohio Valley after taking championship titles back with them a year ago are Morgantown native and former WVU runner Aubrey Moskal, who captured the American title by finishing the 13.1-mile race in 1 hour, 17 minutes and 45.6 seconds, while also returning are Masters champions Tammy Slusser from Monroeville, Pa., and John Piggott from Williamsburg, Va.

“Tammy (Slusser) and John (Piggott) have made our race an annual event so it is always nice to see them come back to defend their titles,” said Allman. “Aubrey (Moskal) was our top American last year and decided that she liked our race enough to come back.”

The field, which is growing daily, will include its normal number of outstanding runners from the countries of Kenya, Ethiopia and Russia as well as names of individuals familiar to running enthusiasts around the MOV such as Canton’s Nic Schweikert and Vienna, Ohio’s Terry McCluskey-the top returning senior grandmaster at the age of 66.

“I’m really happy with the way our women’s field is developing,” continued Allman. “I’m not so happy with the men’s, but it is early and I expect it to grow over the next month and hopefully we will be able to attract some of the runners that have done well here in the past.”

Runners such as Kenya’s Julius Kogo.

Kogo, who set the course record of 1 hour, 1 minute and 47 seconds back in 2011, made it four in a row last August when he finished the race in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 7.4 seconds. His closest rival was Ethiopia’s Aschalew Neguse, but his clocking of 1:03.32.8 was far from close enough to challenge for the championship. Julius Koskei (1:03.44.9) and Haile Tegegn (1:03.52.8) finished third and fourth, respectively.

The women’s field already contains at least one member who could challenge the course record of 1 hour, 10 minutes and 19 seconds established by Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba in 2010. Her name is Cynthia Limo and the 24-year old hails from Kenya.

“She (Limo) is something else,” said Allman. “She hasn’t been beaten this year.”

The first time entrant already has claimed victories at the Steamboat Classic 4 Mile and the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon and has six victories in all in 2014. She has been clocked at 1 hour, 9 minutes and 40 seconds in the half, 1:05.08 in the 20K, 32:04 in the 10K, and 20:00.8 for four miles.

“I can see her as the favorite, but it’s still early and we are receiving entries every day. Right now, I’m expecting between 40 to 45 elites. We could have more, but I don’t want to water down the field with runners who I can’t find results from races where they have competed.”

Another up-and-coming runner that could challenge Moskal for the American title is North Carolina-native Lindsey Scherf. The American Junior (under 20) record holder, Scherf recently posted a 1:11:44 at the San Diego Rock n Roll Half in June.

Applications for the Road Runners Club of America’s National Championship race can be e-mailed to NewsandSentinelHalfMarathon.com or mailed to The Parkersburg News and Sentinel, 519 Juliana Street, Parkersburg, WV 26101.