Ready to Go

PARKERSBURG -Competitors in today’s News and Sentinel Half Marathon and Two-Mile Race poured into Parkersburg on Friday, taking advantage of early race registration, the Runners’ Expo and the pre-race pasta dinner.

Fridays always are busy in downtown Parkersburg, but the business district hadn’t witnessed this many visitors since last year’s Parkersburg Homecoming.

The Parkersburg Municipal Building saw a steady stream of runners registering for the races and getting the identification bibs they will wear today. Many also took the the time to visit the Runners Expo where the latest in running paraphernalia was on display.

Then there was Friday evening’s pasta dinner conducted at the St. Francis Xavier Hall. The popular event not only played to a packed house, but the minute one table was empty, it was filled again.

With the preliminary events deemed a success, race officials turned their full attention to this morning’s races. The News and Sentinel Half Marathon -which will crown the men’s and women’s national half marathon champions of the Road Runners Club of America -starts off the morning with the wheelchair racers leaving the starting line on Juliana Street at 7:50 a.m., followed 10 minutes later by those who will run and walk the 13.1-mile race.

Once again, the race has attracted a strong field of international and national runners, including four-time defending champion Julius Kogo of Kenya, who is expected to be challenged not only by several of his fellow countrymen, but also by some top runners from Ethiopia.

Race director Chip Allman also has put together one of the strongest women’s fields in the history of the event, with a number of contenders from throughout the globe possessing the potential to be the first to cross the finish line on Market Street.

After the half marathon clears the downtown area, it will be time for the Two-Mile Race to get under way. The winner usually finishes in approximately 10 minutes although many of those who enter do so more for the exercise and to be a part of a major event.