Sunday, August 21, 2011

Parkersburg Half Marathon Review

I love the color!
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon is one of my favorite races! Not only are the race fees very reasonable, but the entire town gets behind the race. The volunteers and the people in the town are friendly and welcoming.

For the $45 registration fee you get: pre-race pasta dinner, post-race pizza lunch, technical shirt, finisher medal, ice-cold wet towel at the finish line and awards for walkers. There was more than one water stop per mile (closer together near the finish line), Gatorade at many water stops and ice at many water stops! There were even wet sponges at two or three stops. The finish line offered cold bottles of water, soft drinks, fruit, Panera bagels and free massages.

Along the course, there were monitors to verify that the more than 140 walkers all walked the entire race. The walker bibs were a different color and we wore two bibs -- one on both the front and the back for easy identification. That makes the fact that awards are given to walkers much more meaningful.

Most of this course is very scenic. Walking through historic neighborhoods, or along the river, looking out over the hills of West Virginia, crossing bridges -- you almost forget that it is very hilly and sometimes pretty darn hot.

The flag was lowered as trumpets played the
National Anthem.
At the start of this year's race, a giant U.S. flag was lowered from the roof of a downtown building as trumpeters from the high school band played the National Anthem. It was beautiful!

The temps were in the high 60s and the day was expected to be sunny and a little bit warm.

Deb and I did a pretty good job of walking at a quick pace, averaging 14:20 to 14:30 per mile for the first eight miles. Around mile eight, Deb was slowing a little bit and I was ready to pick up the pace, so I went on ahead. Mile nine was 13:41 for me! From there I slowed with mile 10 14:07, 11 was 14:11 and mile 12 (with the huge hill) was 14:46. The last 1.1 miles I really tried to push, passing people left and right. It took 15:13, which ends up being a 13:49 pace. I love it when I have enough left at the end to really push!

I felt good the vast majority of the race until the hill between 11 and 12. It took me a couple of minutes to recover and catch my breath.

The temps got into the mid-80s, which is pretty hot for a hilly race. The ice was a wonderful addition to the water stops! Though I chewed a few pieces, most of it ended up in my hat. (How do you explain to your doctor that you got frostbite on the top of your head in the middle of August?)

One of my favorite parts of this race is, as you approach the finish line, there are people lining the streets cheering. It is great hearing the announcer say, "From Columbus, OH, one of our racewalkers, Cindi Leeman!" And the crowd goes wild! It makes you feel like an Olympic athlete! (I am sure they didn't quite go "wild," but there was cheering.)

Though the people on the street are really waiting for the parade that starts after the race, they are familiar with racewalking and do a great job of encouraging us back-of-the-packers to finish strong. It is a lot of fun!

There were just a couple of places where traffic could be an issue. The local police did a great job of stopping the cars for us. On two roads cars drove past us in the other lane, but because of the bike patrols and the traffic cops, I felt totally safe.

The only thing I would change about this race is the shirt. The shirts are offered in men's sizes only and even the smalls are too big for small women. In the overall scheme of things, that is not such a big deal.

So, if you are tired of the over-the-top costs of destination races that do not even acknowledge walkers, I would highly recommend trying this race. I can almost guarantee that you will come back.

For this race, I paid $45 for the entry fee, half the hotel room rate of $75 and $14 for gas. We bought no food until we stopped to pick up drinks on our way back home.


amywallace said...

I am really glad you enjoyed the race! The volunteers really do make the race and we are glad that participants recognize and appreciate them. For the shirts I saw a few of the women getting the youth sizes, they seemed to fit them better. Hope to see you next year!

Amy Wallace
Race Coordinator

Cindi said...


I'm glad you saw my comments! This really is one of my favorite races -- even if it usually hot.

I had never thought to request a youth sized shirt. I'll have to remember that the next time I do this race. (Still, women's sizes would make this race perfect.)