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2-mile is special for Cantley, Ellis

Participants can choose to run or walk

August 13, 2011
By JAY W. BENNETT , News and Sentinel Half Marathon

PARKERSBURG - While Saturday's 25th News and Sentinel Half Marathon might not be for everyone, that's why a lot of running enthusiasts opt for the 2-mile race instead.

One of the best parts about the annual 2-mile race comes from the fact people can choose to either run or walk it, just like the half marathon.

When it comes to Ohio University's Tyler Cantley and Parkersburg retiree Bill Ellis, there couldn't be two broader ends of the spectrum.

Cantley, a Warren High School graduate and senior cross country runner for the Bobcats, is the four-time defending 2-mile champion and established the course record of 9 minutes and 39 seconds last summer. Cantley not only is going after his fifth consecutive crown, but he's also trying to extend a winning streak for WHS to 11 years. Before Cantley's last four wins, former Warren standout Jason Linton won the previous half dozen races.

"Each year, it's fun to be able to win and be able to uphold the Warren tradition or whatever people would say to that," Cantley said. "It's fun to just come out and put on your shoes and go for a race.

"I try to be better than I was the year before. If I can be better than the year I was before that's a goal set and a goal reached. If I can win it, that's just an added bonus."

For Ellis, who is retired from C.H. Heist, he has a little bit of a different outlook when it comes to completing the 2-mile walk. At the age of 74 last year, Ellis competed in his second News and Sentinel 2-mile race, finishing third from last.

"People ask me and they say they are going to look in the paper and see if they can find my name and I tell them to start at the bottom rather than the top because you will find it a lot quicker," said Ellis, who because of diabetes lost both of his legs four inches below his knees about five years ago .

Ellis said the reason he started racing more, which includes competing in the Turkey Trot, was because of some feedback he got in the community after he started. There was a 27-year-old woman who had one leg and when she learned about Ellis racing with two prosthetic legs it motivated her to get out and become more active.

"I felt sorry for myself for about five minutes and I thought to myself no one is going to get me out of this bed or wheelchair but me," said Ellis, recalling when he had his first leg amputated.

"I joke about it. There's nothing else you can do. I can't change it. A lot of people think I've got a pretty good attitude."

Although Cantley once again will be the race favorite while Ellis will be walking the 2-mile event with friend Joy Haynes, the Bobcat student-athlete still gets the jitters before the gun goes off.

"My assistant coach Craig Leon, he was laughing at me last year when I told him that I had butterflies before the race," Cantley recalled. "I don't expect to win when I come out."

Obviously, Ellis doesn't expect to even win his age group either, but that's not why he'll be out there with his prosthetic legs which feature an American flag varnish.

"I mow grass, cut firewood and raise a garden, but not a big garden," Ellis said. "(By doing this) maybe I can get someone else off their butt."



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