Share |

Monday, September 7, 1998 -- Parkersburg
The Smoot Mile

Pictures: [Walkers/40+/Elite] [Under 40/High School] [Kids 7-14]

The 40-49 year old men get start on a wet Market Street
The Smoot Mile got off on Labor Day under threatening skies. But not even a little lightning and thunder could keep everyone from coming out to support the Smoot Theatre, Parkersburg's only remaining historic vaudevillian theatre [Details]. Well, we'll admit, some folks may have turned out due to the lure of a $1500 prize for the fastest mile (in additional to a $150 prize for the fastest mile by a Master, 40 and over.) The threat of rain never amounted to much more than a few brief showers, anyway.

The Mile is a straight shot down Market Street, between 19th and 5th streets, in downtown Parkersburg. It also is nice that the course is almost all at a slight downhill grade, with a fast downhill finish. The races began at 9:00am with the mile walk. Racing continued throughout the morning with different age groups sent out at about 10 minute intervals. The finale came with the Invitational Women's and Men's races taking off at 12:00 noon and 12:15pm, respectively.

Eight year old Kayla Ayers races with the determination of a seasoned veteran
The first groups of racers to hit the course were the Masters categories. So, who took home the money? Mike Taylor (42) was the only Masters to break a five minute mile with a time of 4:40, plenty fast enough to take the $150. Taking home money for second and third were Dale Hill (45) and Gary McMahan (48) with times of 5:02 and 5:12, respectively. The fastest Masters woman was Connie Hurst who earned her money in a time of 6:21.

In the under 40 (i.e. no cash prizes) categories, the top three racers were the only ones to break a five minute mile. Within this sub-five group, the young legs prevailed. Jed Tuten (17) turned in the fastest time with a 4:50 mile while Eric Dougherty (26) and Jim Ruble (35) sprinted across the line in second and third with times of 4:57 and 5:59, respectively. The fastest female under 40 was left to be decided by the High School class as no other under 40 women participated. The fastest female times were set by Kelly Oldaker (6:09), Anna Zivkovich (6:14) and Emily Chandler (6:17).

Kathy Fleming takes the tape as the fastest woman for the day
The next groups to take on the streets where the 7-14 year olds who went out in two year age group heats. As would be expected, overall, the fastest times were ran by the older kids. But there were plenty of awards for just about everyone.

The last races to be run were reserved for only the fleetest feet, the Ames Company Men's Invitational Mile and the St. Joseph's Hospital Women's Invitational Mile. The women raced first and it was a duel between last year's first and second place winners, Alisa Hill of Manassas, VA, and Kathy Fleming of Natick, MA. This year, however, the race was won by Fleming (4:36.06), who was able to edge out last year's winner, Hill (4:38.04), by just two seconds. Fleming and Hill took home nice paychecks, but the lack of women participants still left $500 in unclaimed prize money. Certainly there are few more women around who would like $250 for less than six minutes work. We'll be looking for them next year.

Hannek Phillimon positions himself for a Men's Invitational win
In the men's competition, the field of runners included athletes from three African countries as well as many from far away states like Utah and Florida. When the gun sounded, these amazingly fast men blazed down Market Street hoping to be the one to take home $1500 for about four minutes of effort. The three men that positioned themselves at the front were Hanneck Phillimon of Zimbabwe, Jason Pyrah of Provo, UT, and Levis Anyega of Columbia, KY. The pace was set early by Pyrah who sensed the presence of other combatants waiting on his heels. Sure enough, toward the middle of race, Anyega made his move and took over the lead position, pushing the pace even harder. Anyega was unable to pull away from the field and soon Pyrah and Phillimon moved back into the lead positions. Pyrah continued to set the pace and the two began to build a small gap on the rest of the field. The final downhill stretch to the finish is where Phillimon made his move. He sprinted past Pyrah and took a small lead to the finish with less than a second to spare. Phillimon (3:58.67) and Pyrah (3:59.49) pushed each other hard enough to record the day's only two sub-four minute miles. Anyega, crossing the line third, was a full five seconds back with a time of 4:04.79. The fastest West Virginian for the day, finishing eighth overall, was Jimmy Galloway (4:26.70) from Mineral Wells.

Congratulations goes out to all the mile participants and the many sponsors and volunteers that made it possible. We'll be looking forward to seeing everyone again next year because the Smoot Mile really is a wonderful ride.