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Are you Thirsty?

June 21, 2022 - Art Smith

Jun 18, 2022 Art Smith Staff Reporter

If the News and Sentinel had any more water stops it could officially become a swim meet.

I’m only exaggerating a little.

Hydration is important. The hotter it gets and the harder you run relates directly to how much liquid you need to drink before, during and after a long race.

The News and Sentinel Half Marathon has 15 water stops along the 13.1-mile course. That is of course, more than one per mile. Some of you will need every one of them, others will not take water the entire race. You be you – drink what your body needs. Your hydration plan should start a few days before. The experts recommend drinking around two and a half liters per day leading up to race day.

In the early 2000s we had a half marathon where the humidity was high, and the temperature was even higher. It hovered around 93 degrees at the finish line. Those who took advantage of the water did OK, many people pushed themselves past what they were capable of and arrived at the finish line dehydrated.

It was from that race that we learned what we needed for the rare high temp/high humidity race. What we needed were 45,000 cups. That is right, enough cups for every person in Parkersburg. What we found was that a lot of people were taking a cup of water and pouring it on top of their heads, they were taking another one and drinking it, and they were taking a third one and taking it with them. If every racer did this at every water stop they would use 45,000 cups. We are incredibly grateful that the local Burger Kings donate the cups we need each year.

They are filled with water donated by Culligan and water that is delivered to the individual water stops by the W.V. National Guard with a vehicle called a water buffalo. Charo Stubbs coordinates hundreds of volunteers to staff the different water stops through the race. They do a great job and all seem to enjoy helping the racers stay hydrated.

Most water stops also have Gatorade, please make sure you pick up the right cup if you plan to dump it on your head. Gatorade will not feel good in your hair. The Gatorade will normally be in Gatorade cups or at least near a sign that says Gatorade. We get it by the skid full. Each water stop goes through 10-25 gallons. Race Gatorade has a bit more kick to it than the red and blue flavors you buy at the gas station.

Here are some points to remember as you approach a water stop.

You are running a race in the middle of August, if someone is offering you something to drink, take it.

Pouring water on your head can help you stay cool to the next water stop around a mile away.

If you are planning to walk a little bit during a race, a water stop is a good place to do it. It is extremely hard to drink from a cup while running. You will end up wearing half the water, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

If you wait until you are thirsty before taking water, you are already dehydrated. It is better to take a little throughout the race than to try to rehydrate late in the race. I have hiked long distances without water before because I did not want to carry it. Not a good idea. It tends to make you feel horrible.

Even though there are literally hundreds of people yelling WATER! And GATORADE! for 13.1 miles there will be some people that do not want to break stride and take any water.

They finally stop running when they cross the finish line. Some people will be fine doing this. For others we have a whole team of people waiting for you with wheelchairs to take you to the medical tent to get rehydrated. We call them catchers because they are there to catch you before you hit the asphalt. Do yourself a favor, drink water during the race.

We have a lot of different drinks available for you just beyond the finish line, including ice cold bottles of sports drinks. We will also have snacks for you to quickly get your system heading back toward normal.

Art Smith is co-director the News and Sentinel races and is online manager for The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. He can be reached at His column about the races appears each weekend.


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