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Josh Park pulls away from pack to break tape

August 21, 2022
News and Sentinel Half Marathon

PARKERSBURG - Parkersburg's biggest race is in the books, and after a COVID-induced two-year hiatus, runners and walkers took to the streets in grand fashion.

While the early going of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon itself was a tight race between the top four, it was Ohio University product Josh Park who pulled away for a comfortable victory at 1:09:20. The two-time MAC cross country champion has his sights set on the Columbus Marathon on Oct. 16, as Saturday's race was a good way for him to test himself in preparation.

He kept a brisk pace of 5:18 per mile, as his mile splits continually improved throughout the morning. His fastest mile came early on with some of the later miles staying right in that range. He clocked his third mile in at 16:20 and delivered a blistering pace, completing the fourth mile just 5:05 later. He had already disappeared from everybody else, notching $1,000 for the win.

Article Photos

Josh Park crosses the finish line at Saturday’s Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon. Park placed first overall with a time of 1:09.20. Photo by Josh Hughes

"We started in a group. I think there were three of us (at the beginning of the race)," he said. "(Second-place finisher Breydon Gates) and I spoke before the race and decided we'd go out there and be conservative. Everyone I talked to said you've got to go conservative because the race gets tough on account of the hills and the humidity.

"When we went up that first ramp on mile two, I felt like those guys were getting ready to detach, so I pressed a little bit and got away. I tried to get in a rhythm and still be a little conservative because I was waiting for it to get hard. It definitely did get hard. I knew by about mile four or so that, barring disaster, I'd be able to get to the finish line by running pretty moderately. I was trying to keep my effort at the appropriate level.

"I was using this race as a training exercise. I'm going to race the Columbus Marathon in October, so I wanted to replicate that type of effort. This course is definitely harder than anything I'll see in Columbus, so I was running pretty close to the pace I need to marathon. It was really cool. There was so much support out on the course. The people of Parkersburg, West Virginia are wonderful. I felt very welcomed, and it was very positive."

The Belpre High and Shawnee State alum Gates fell back a bit at around that time, but he held off third-place Scott Burnham by more than a minute (1:12:19). The three-time NAIA cross country qualifier during his time at SSU kept a good pace during this contest.

"We had good weather this year, actually. It was a pretty good race," Gates said after securing $750 for his efforts. "From South Hills on Gihon Road until you get to where State Electric is was super tough. Scott and I just kind of worked together through there. I was kind of using this as a baseline to see where I am, but I don't know if I'm doing the full or the half Columbus Marathon. I live in Columbus,so I'll probably do it. I've been easing into workouts, but I wanted to use this as a starting point, and I'm pretty happy with it."

As for Burnham, the Marietta College grad and current Fort Frye assistant cross country coach pulled away from the top female placer, fourth-place Sarah Biehl for a $500 payday. He finished in 1:13:31, ahead of Biehl (1:17:39) by more than four minutes.

"It was actually a PR for me," Burnham said. "I came in around 1:30:30, and my personal best was 1:14, so it's a 30-second PR. I'm pretty happy with it, considering the hills and it certainly wasn't chilly out. The three of us: Josh, Breydon Gates and myself, we stayed together for the first mile, and then I let those two get away from me. I knew I couldn't keep up the pace they were holding, which was low 5:20s, so I stuck to my plan within my ability.

"Around the two-mile mark, Breydon actually came back to me, and he wanted to run with me so we could help each other out. We did that until about 7 1/2 miles, and then he picked up the pace and went ahead. Really, it was the two of us helping each other out."

Rounding out the top five was Josh Frash at 1:18:27. Matthew Stevenot's time of 1:20:46 was good for sixth, ahead of Ryan Bahr (1:23:11) in seventh and Walter Dearing (1:23:56) right behind him. The top 10 concluded with the first master finishers (age 40-49) of the day. Brad Theyerl picked up the top honor and finished ninth overall in a time of 1:24:56, and Kevin Trippett clocked in 10th overall at 1:25:57.

The grand master winner (age 50-59) was Plain City, Ohio's Rob Wagner. He finished at 1:35:44, while Jackson, Ohio's George Sellers came away with the senior grand master crown (60 and over) with an even quicker time of 1:30:45.

Lee Stough's dynasty in the walkers race was fully realized, as he collected his third consecutive title (and his fourth overall) at 2:16:29. At age 40, he was the top masters finisher as well. Although he was off his pace by more than nine minutes from a year ago, he used this race to better himself in the long run.

"In preparation for it, I've race-walked progressively further distances until I got up to 12 miles," Stough said, collecting $200 for his victory. "Over the course of about two months or so, I increased my distance. I was racing courses with some big hills because this one has some hills in it. Also, today, I didn't have my best stuff. I felt pretty good for the first few miles, and I noticed somebody was very close to me between miles three and five.

"The last time I looked around and saw him was the five-mile mark. I went a little faster, but I should have just kept up the pace I was doing. Maybe I went out a little too fast after that, and I got considerably slower after the midway point. I still stayed pretty strong. My finishing time was one of my slowest, but I'm happy with the win."

Jason Mader achieved top honors as the first grand master walker to cross the finish line at 2:31:31. Following Katherine Vickers in third was Blacklick, Ohio's James Lapinski. He crossed at 2:35:31 ahead of senior grand master winner, Don Slusser (2:39:03, fifth overall) and grand master runner-up Michael Villani (2:40:50, sixth overall).

Contact Josh Hughes at



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