Half marathon attracts senior participants

PARKERSBURG-Who says the 28th annual News and Sentinel Half Marathon and 2 Mile races are for the younger crowd?

Certainly not the more than 60 persons over the age 65 who have entered one of the races.

Ohio resident Jack McClain, at the age of 93, is the oldest competitor to date scheduled to compete.

A former runner who picked up the sport at the age 55, McClain has a regularly scheduled workout routine he follows Monday through Friday.

“I get up in the morning usually around a quarter to five,” McClain, a resident of Granville near Denison University, said.

That routine includes meeting up with his good friend Dave Kintner to get the day started. The pair used to run marathons together until McClain had to give that up and focus on walking.

McClain and Kintner walk 3.5 miles each day in and around the village of Granville. He will meet his wife Jeanne later in the morning and take in a few laps at Denison College’s stadium. After that, the couple will swim for 20 to 30 minutes in the college’s indoor swimming pool.

“I swim very slowly,” McClain said.

McClain gives a lot of credit to his wife, friends and family for all the support he gets.

“I’m just blessed to still be able to walk in them (the races),” McClain added. “I do get the same good feeling participating and being with the runners and walkers.”

“Parkersburg is special, I think. It’s always wonderful and I enjoy it. The route has beautiful views and it’s not an easy journey. It’s a challenging one with some tough hills to climb.”

McClain will be taking on more half marathons after his effort in Parkersburg. He plans to compete in a couple races near his home in Granville and plans to make New Albany’s race his final effort of his career.

He has run in 49 full marathons, he’s biked across the United States and was twice on the USA duathlon team where he traveled to Europe. McClain took a six-week journey via bike from Oceanside, Calif., to Jekyll Island, Ga. He said it was one of the most rewarding physical efforts of his life.

Another senior taking part this year is 84-year-old James Fitzsimmons of New Martinsville. He has been walking in half marathons for more than four years with his first outing in Pittsburgh.

“It was a difficult course, but I was able to complete it without being last to the finish line,” he said.

Fitzsimmons has walked most of his life in the countryside near his home, often accompanied by his kids. He will be walking this year with a grandson and granddaughter.

“My goal is not to be last,” he said.

Dea Zugby of Greenbelt, Md., has competed in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon 25 out of the race’s 28 years. Zugby, at the age of 75, said this could be her last half marathon. She participated in the Marine Corps 25th anniversary marathon in Washington D.C. in 2000 at the age of 50. She was able to run the entire course.

Zugby will be accompanied this year by her daughter, Christina Smith. Zugby said, she hopes to complete the course before they open the streets for the annual parade. I was the last walker to cross the finish line last year and hope to better that effort this year.”

More than 600 runners and walkers already have registered for the race on Saturday, Aug. 16. Applications are being accepted via e-mail at NewsandSentinelHalf-Marathon.com or by mail at The Parkersburg News and Sentinel, 519 Juliana Street, Parkersburg, WV 26101.