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You can do this: Finishing half marathon is a solid goal

May 23, 2022 - Art Smith
For years, you may have wondered if you could run a half marathon. I used to have the same thought. After years of watching others cover 13.1 miles I decided to see if I could in fact, finish such a distance.

I will not sugar coat it, doing a half marathon is hard. Hard in a good way, hard in a way that if you plan for it, most people can complete it and most will find joy in the fact that they did.

People run long distances for a variety of reasons, for me it was a medical reason to drop a few pounds. Preparing to take part in a half marathon was the motivation that I needed to push myself to get in shape. For others it is a desire to push themselves to run a distance longer than they ever have before. The feeling of satisfaction in completing your goal will outweigh any soreness the actual event may cause you.

I did my first half marathon before I was ready. I trained for about a month and was still very out of shape when I did it. I was also injured, but I did it anyway. I was not last, but I was close, my time of 4:14 would have put me in the middle of the Homecoming parade if I had done it in Parkersburg.

The next year I was in much better shape and did much better. I was actually shocked at how good I felt when I got done. I improved my personal record by 90 minutes, which is more of a testament to how slow I was the first year than to how fast I was the second.

COVID-19 then hit, canceling most races including the News and Sentinel Half Marathon and Two-Mile Race. COVID-19 lasted longer than any of us thought, and for the races it meant two years of cancellations.

This year the races are back, the world class volunteers are back, and the runners and walkers are signing up. We are thrilled this little bit of normalcy is returning Aug. 20.

You may think you are not in good enough shape to do the distance, and you may very well be right. A runner once told me that it is incredible what a human body is capable of doing if you push it. I didn’t really understand what he meant at the time. I do now. If you want to do this, you can.

When people do a long race, they kind of self-filter into packs of people with abilities close to their own. When I did my first race, I ended up doing the last nine miles with a man who was struggling as much as I was. When I did my second one, I ended up in a group of around 20 people. We walked up the hills together and then ran down the other side continuing in this kind of unspoken synchronization until the finish line.

I’ve been part of the News and Sentinel races for the last two decades; I have observed all types of people start the race on Juliana Street in the giant pack of runners who slowly spread out to stretch to a miles-long string of people all doing the race their way, at their speed.

I’ve been there on Market Street to watch them round the corner above Seventh Street while picking up their stride to make the final push to the finish line.

A half marathon takes about 30,000 steps. I’ve seen people struggle to make the last few and I’ve watched people older than me run across the finish line like they do it every day. I have seen slow two-mile racers passed by extremely fast half marathon runners. I was cheering for the two-mile racer who was a friend and a longtime member of our community.

They were all doing the same race while at the same time they were all doing their own race.

You can do your own race too. Come celebrate who you are, push yourself to do something that you did not think you could do. We will be cheering for you.

You can register for both the News and Sentinel Half Marathon and the News and Sentinel Two-Mile Race at


Art Smith is co-director of the News and Sentinel races and is online manager for The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. He can be reached at His column about the races appears each weekend.


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