Ashley Gates plans to walk her first Half Marathon
PARKERSBURG — Ashley Gates will be in uncharted territory at the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Races on Aug. 17.
“I’ve never done a half marathon,” said the 28-year-old Vienna resident. “But I’ve been inspired by people who have done them.”
Gates paused and smiled.
“I’m nervous, because I’ve set my goals pretty high,” she said. “And I’m pretty hard on myself.”
Gates is planning to walk the 13.1-mile distance.
“You know, I’ve done a 5K or 3.1 miles,” she said, laughing. “And a half marathon is four 5Ks. So, maybe I can do that.”
A 2009 Calhoun County graduate, Gates said she was the “feature twirler of the Red Devil marching band.”
“Our high school didn’t get a track team until my senior year,” Gates said. “I did the 400, 800, and relays. I’m not a sprinter and never was.”
After getting her prep diploma, Gates attended Marshall University in Huntington, and was a majorette for a year. Later, she was certified as a pharmacy technician. Currently, she’s employed at Olive Garden.
Gates started competing on the race course about three years ago.
“I just started doing it as a workout and exercise, and it kind of became an addiction,” she said. “After my first race, I just wanted to do more.”
As a walker rather than a runner.
“I ran my first 5K in Parkersburg, and then I decided to start walking because I’m kind of a slow runner,” Gates said. “I’m really competitive, and I knew that I could probably do well as a walker.”
Gates said she was first in her age group in her very first 5K walk race, the Fall Back in Marietta.
“I was still pretty slow but I decided to just keep at it,” she said. “My technique is not the greatest yet but I’m learning from a lot of walkers and runners. There are quite a few runners who started off walking.”
This year, Gates joined the River City Runners and Walkers Club and has been a familiar face on the road racing circuit.
“I’ve done nine series races,” she said.
And, in those nine 5K walk races, Gates has finished first in her age group eight times (Valentine Classic, March Hare, Dash for Diabetes, Vienna River Road Race, Walk Your Paws, St. Marys Heart Fund, Dad’s Day, Firecracker, and Rick Brown. She was second in her AG at Shamrock.
“My best time so far has been 36:58 (at Dad’s Day at PHS June 15),” Gates said.
Awards are nice, but Gates will only have one thing on her mind when she walks the Half.
“My goal is just to finish it,” she said, laughing. “I’m sure there will be several people there I can walk with. I’ll have to keep my pace pretty steady.”
Ron Johnston can be reached at email@example.com
* Those interested in running the 2019 Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon can register at newsandsentinelhalfmarathon.com.