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Ordinary runners provide inspirational moments

August 21, 2010 - Art Smith

The 2010 News and Sentinel Half Marathon is now a race for the record books. It was a great day that saw several gifted athletes break course records.

Some 2,000 runners took part in the half marathon as well as the two mile race. Most had no aspirations of winning the race. For many just finishing the race and doing their best was victory enough. It's this group of runners and walkers that I find inspirational.

I've been involved with the races since the News and Sentinel became the lead sponsor for the races in 2002. After nine races, I've seen a lot of moments that display the best of the human spirit. Here are a few.

Standing at the finish line one year I saw a line of runners slowing making their way down Market Street. They all wore the white jersey of Berry College. It turned out one girls was struggling to finish the race. Her entire team had finished. They all returned to the course to run the last mile with the girl, stopping to let her cross the finish line by herself.

The finish line is frequently a place of high drama. Once I, and several hundred other people, watched as a runner slowly lost control of his limbs just 50 feet short of the end of the 13.1 mile race. Two runners passed him to finish, then immediately turned around to help the stranger cross the line by holding him up until he made it to the end.

Another year a man collapsed just short of the line, he required medical attention, and an IV. He came back an hour or so later, in a wheelchair, so he could say he finished the race.

Then there is the gentleman who takes part in the two mile race every year. He runs it on prosthetic legsl.

One year a man ran the two mile with a broken leg by using a special cast that allowed him to still put weight on the upper part of his leg.

I watched today as hundreds of ordinary people pushed themselves to extraordinary lengths to finish the race. I set at the top of the 13th Street Hill this morning as people struggled to make it up the steep incline located late in the race. Some were older, some were skinny, some, like many people, struggled with weight issues. One used a walker. My wife, my daughter and I gave them a cold drink, they gave us a lesson in the human spirit.

It is this group that I find inspirational and it is the collective spirit of these runners and walkers that make the races such special events for the mid-Ohio Valley.

You can read about some of these people and view results for the races by visiting the site for the races at You can also view photos of them by visiting the race galleries at



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