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Take your mark, half marathon training starts now

May 9, 2023 - Art Smith
This can be your year.

Registration for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon is open. You can register now and save a little money and provide yourself with the motivation to get ready for Aug. 19.

The News and Sentinel Half Marathon and the News and Sentinel Two-Mile race has a long history of filling the streets of Parkersburg with runners and walkers. For more than three decades, racers have taken to the streets early on the third Saturday of August to race against others as well as themselves as they strive to beat past performances.

The race was first held in 1987 and has been held every year since except for a two-year break during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The races returned last year with a field of runners and walkers excited to continue the tradition of taking part in the race. For some, like co-race director Steve Browning, the tradition dates back to the start of the event. Browning and a handful of runners, have taken part in every single half marathon.

You can start your own tradition this year by joining them.

The 13.1-mile distance is a little intimidating for some people. It should not be.

Everyone has their own style when taking part in a half marathon. You likely fit into one of these groups.

* The hard-core runner. These are the well-trained, dedicated runners that are at the front of the pack at the start and tend to stay there. They bypass most of the water stops and finish the race at about the same speed they started. They are a joy to watch as they glide over the streets with strong confident strides. They are not me, and they may not be you. Do not be intimidated by them, but let them inspire you. They worked really hard to get that good, this is their chance to shine.

* The long-term runner. This group of people are those that have run for years but know their super-fast years are likely behind them.

They strive to get close to their PR (personal record) but know that time in general is working against them besting their best half marathon time. Because all half marathons are exactly the same distance, they are striving to improve their best time in any race. Most can tell you their best time to the second. Mine is 2:43:37, I will likely never get any faster.

* The weekend runner. This group runs to stay in shape. Many of them will not run the entire 13.1 miles, walking up most of the hills and many of the flats. I can relate to this group. I am now a proud member of the group.

* The walker. A lot of people who do a half marathon do not run a single step of it.

They walk the entire race. Walking is a division in our half marathon. Some people are incredibly fast walkers. In fact, many of the walkers will finish before some of the runners.

Others will walk the race at a more leisurely pace. Walking 13.1 miles is an impressive achievement regardless of your speed.

No matter what group you are in we can’t wait to see you on the starting line Aug. 19. Your training starts now, and the first step is simple. Go to, click on the red button and register.

Art Smith is the online manager of the Parkersburg News and Sentinel and co-director of News and Sentinel Races. He can be reached at


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