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Kinsolving the longtime voice of Parkersburg half marathon

August 16, 2018
News and Sentinel Half Marathon

PARKERSBURG - Hydration is a major concern for participants in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon - as well as the voice of the race.

For more than two decades, Randy Kinsolving has announced the name of each participant crossing the finish line in both the Half Marathon and Two Mile Race, while also keeping the racers and spectators updated throughout one of the biggest events in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

"You've got to make sure you drink plenty of water because that can sure tax your voice," he said.

Article Photos

Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon race announcer Randy Kinsolving, front, speaks with Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce prior to the start of the 2017 race on Juliana Street.

Kinsolving, the president of Miller Communications, has been involved with the race since its inception in 1987. He started out supplying equipment for the event to be broadcast over radio, then was asked by Kenny Harris, with Wood County Emergency Communications, if he would consider announcing the finishers' names.

In those days, Kinsolving read the names over a loudspeaker, but he had to take someone else's word for it that they had indeed crossed the finish line.

"I was actually in a tent underneath the Sixth Street bridge, and they had people up the street that would call in the (racers' bib) numbers to the trailer behind me," he said.

For a few years, Kinsolving worked with Creigh Kelley, a member of the Running USA Hall of Champions, who assisted with the Half Marathon and did the pre-race announcing. Kelley eventually invited Kinsolving to take over those duties as well.

"It's just a joy to do it. It's a lot of fun," Kinsolving said.

Kinsolving said he isn't just responsible for letting spectators know who's in the lead and who's crossing the finish line.

"Randy does a great job letting not only the racers but the public know about the status of the race," said Art Smith, logistics director for the Half Marathon.

Kinsolving's race day starts around 6:30 a.m., setting up equipment at the finish line at Sixth and Market streets. By 7, he's made his way to the starting line at Second and Juliana streets and begins making announcements, reminding runners and walkers to have their bibs visible on the front of their bodies and to make sure they cross over the sensors at each mile so they get credit for completing it.

The Half Marathon kicks off at 8 a.m., with the Two Mile getting underway 10 minutes later. After that, Kinsolving has to hustle back to the finish line.

"Sometimes you ride a golf cart, and sometimes you walk it," he said.

Over the course of the Half Marathon, spotters let Kinsolving know who is leading at which portion of the race. He tries to share some knowledge about the course and what the runners are facing with the audience, such as mile 11, which includes the 13th Street hill.

"That's a grueling run," he said.

As participants approach the finish line, a sensor transmits information from the chip attached to their number to a computer screen so Kinsolving can announce their names.

"As long as not too many come across at the same time, you're good," he said.

Smith said he appreciates the work Kinsolving does.

"He does a phenomenal job pronouncing not only local names but runners from around the world," he said.

About a week before the race, Kinsolving receives a list of participants' names so he can start practicing pronunciation.

"I do the best I can with them," Kinsolving said.

If there is a slip-up, he doesn't have time to dwell on it. When large groups are crossing together, by the time he reads a name, it's already been pushed halfway down the screen by the others popping in, Kinsolving said.

The last participants usually finish up around noon or so. Then Kinsolving's back on the job the next day, serving as the announcer for the News and Sentinel Kids Races at Stadium Field.

"It's a lot of fun because all the younger kids, kids from 2 and up that want to race, they come and they have a ball," he said.

Kinsolving emphasized those races aren't just for friends and family, saying the entire community is welcome to turn out for the event.



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