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SMITH: We Got This

Staging a race the size of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon takes a lot of effort, and a lot of people.

The team that puts the race together spends countless hours making sure things go off without a hitch. COVID-19 caused us to take a two-year pause in the race, so we haven’t had a race in around 1,000 days. That’s a long time.

For many different reasons the make-up of the team that puts the races together will be a little different this year. Like any sports team, we have several people that will be “playing” in positions that may be new to them.

I recently sent an email to the group of people who lead the different groups of volunteers. The email was to remind everyone that we had a meeting earlier in the week.

The meetings are a fun chance to talk through the challenges that the different parts of the race may have and to collectively come up with a solution. The first few we had were tough because we had more problems than solutions. We have been meeting regularly for months to go over the fine details that it takes to stage the event.

I always invite people to come and continue planning “the best race in the land” There is only a little exaggeration there. The race has been the national championship many times and the regional champion (which it is now) repeatedly. In 2015 The RRCA named it Race of the Year.

I also told everyone in the email “We got this” — because we do.

Not I, but we. We got this. I didn’t just mean the people in the room; I also meant the 500 or so volunteers who helped guide with tasks ranging from cooking pasta to making sure an intersection is blocked.

I also meant the people of Parkersburg who come out on their porches and cheer on the runners.

I also meant the businesses that go the extra mile to make sure we have what we need.

The runners and walkers, you definitely got this.

Returning to some sense of normalcy is important for people and communities – staging things such as the races is important because it allows us to all know that “We got this.”

The ads that we have been running have encouraged people to come and do “Your Race” — the meaning there is really two-fold. First you are really racing against yourself, what you are capable of doing and how willing you are to push yourself a little.

To quote a long-term runner — “To make it hurt.”

It’s also directed at the community – this is your race – come and do it and see what your community is capable of doing as a group.

One thing I know for sure, this year’s race will be special. It will be special because of the large group of people who will be giving up their Saturday on Aug. 20 to make sure that people are once again able to test themselves by running the Two-Mile Race and the Half Marathon.

Will it be exactly the same race that people have enjoyed doing for more than 30 years? We hope that those doing it will think so, in fact we hope that they will think that it is better.

The pandemic forced us to cancel the race twice and it is still having an impact on our race and other events across the country. Some things are just hard to get and if you can get them, they will likely cost more and may be a little different than you normally buy.

You got this MOV – now let’s get signed up for the party.

Art Smith is co-director of the News and Sentinel races and is online manager for The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. He can be reached on asmith@newsandsentinel.com. His column about the races appears each weekend.

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