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Saturday, August 21, 1999 -- Parkersburg
Parkersburg Half Marathon
Story by Don Parks with photos by Marty Lamp

Pics: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6]
[Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9] [Set 10] [Set 11] [Set 12] [Set 13]
[Coverage/Recap] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]

A sea of runners set out for a 13.1 mile journey
Excellent morning weather greeted a tremendous crowd of over one-thousand runners, walkers and wheelchair racers at the Parkersburg Half Marathon on Saturday, August 21st. Once again the race would be the USAT&F Men's and Women's National Half Marathon Championships, so it wasn't surprising to see a packed field of elite runners.

The race began in downtown Parkersburg, just after 8:00am, with the wheelchairs leading the way with a slightly earlier start. Just after the huge crowd cleared the starting line, the Wendy's Two Miler sent about 500 more runners and walkers into the streets of Parkersburg. This was just to get the show started as the Parkersburg Homecoming Festival Parade was set to march, dance and stroll down Market Street on the heels of the last race finishers.

Wheelchair Racer
Wheelchairs raced the streets at amazing speeds
When the dust cleared from the race start, it was Kevin Odiorne of Johnson City, TN, who moved out to set the pace at the front. Ripping through the first mile in 4:45, and hammering out consistent sub 5-minute miles, Odiorne built an 18 second lead by the 7-mile mark. However, a strong chase group of about a half-dozen racers, including Peter Dela Cerda and John Sence, last year's 2nd and 3rd place finishers, respectively, kept the pressure on.

By the tenth mile, Odiorne's pace had slowed to just over 5-minute miles. This was enough for Boulder's Scott Larson and Knoxville's Todd Williams to close the gap. A battle ensued over the final two miles with Larson being the first to pull around Odiorne. But the glory would go to Williams who put on an impressive finish to move into the lead with just a few hundred meters left in the race.

Kevin Odiorne
Kevin Odiorne leading the way
In perhaps one of Parkersburg's most exciting finishes, Williams (1:04:24) took first with Larson (1:04:26) capturing second and Odiorne (1:04:28) holding on for third. Colorado's Dela Cerda (1:04:35) wasn't far behind in fourth and Cincinnati's Sence (1:05:14) rounded out the top five.

While the women's competition may not have been quite as dramatic it was a formidable display of speed. Morrisville, PA, native Gwyn Coogan raced to the front and set a pace that couldn't be matched. Her first place time of 1:12:36 was less than a minute off the course record and was close to two minutes ahead of her closest rival. Albuquerque's Shelly Steel crossed the finish second in 1:14:30 with Boulder's Chris McNamara (1:15:03) taking third. Completing the American World Championship Team was Wisconsin's Lynn Fitzsimmons (1:15:34) and Maine's Julia Kirtland (1:16:43), who finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Gwyn Coogan
Gwyn Coogan sets her sights on a half marathon championship
In the wheelchair competition it was Butch Martin of Fishers, IN, who led the race from wire to wire with a winning time of 53:06. Rich Wagner from Columbus, OH, took second in 59:26 with N. Olmsted, OH's John Gilger taking third in 1:03:31. Diana McClure of Charleson, WV, was the sole female wheelchair racer and captured a win with a time of 1:24:01.

Congratulations go out to all those who participated in this year's events. A special thanks goes out to all the wonderful folks that make the Parkersburg Half Marathon such a great event. WVOutside's Lew McGrath summed up his experience in the race by telling us: "They treated me like a king!" Lew said he'll be back in 2000 and you can be sure WVOutside's cameras will be there, as well.