By Sharon Marks
Mile 1 – the first mile is fast and furious; the crowd is excited and many runners will get caught up in this excitement. Mile two will fix that. There is a slight upgrade but finishes with a steep downhill to the end of mile one.
Mile 2 – begins on a flat stretch of road and winds around to the bridge and Rt. 68. Construction a few years ago changed this mile. There is a moderate upgrade on the bridge that changes to a significant upgrade to the exit ramp. This is a HILL by any name. This is a tough little section of the course. Your legs will know you have been on a hill.
Mile 3 – is different too because of the past construction. This is good news - good news. You are past the "hill" and now you will meander downhill to Marrtown Road. Once on Marrtown, the downhill grade continues. ENJOY!
Mile 4 – you are now traveling on Route 95 close to Ryanwood Village. You have entered the realm of rolling hills. Gihon/Rt. 95 is not a tough section of the race but there are a series of small to moderate "rolls." This is a nice section to find your pace. The excitement of the start has died down and the big hill is behind you so this is a good time to get comfortable, considering you are racing.
Mile 5 – Ditto from mile four. You will be close to the golf course, but no time to stop for a quick nine. You are still on Gihon Rd. and it is still rolling. Good time to work on your pacing skills, too early to get excited though. Good news is there is a great water stop at mile six and you are almost there.
Mile 6 - is just before the Evangelical Methodist Church and this is a great water stop. These people are just happy. You are beyond the rolling Gihon and you will find some nice flat land for a while, but it does not last forever. HEY YOU ARE HALF WAY!!!!!!
Mile 7 – Gihon Rd. has turned into Rayon Dr. (it is the same street) and there is a hill to climb. Personally, this is my least favorite hill. You are getting tired and this is a real hill. Tough it out because there is a nice flat stretch just ahead of it. Be ready for it though. Get a good drink at that great water stop at mile six.
Mile 8 and Mile 9 - You have crossed a large intersection and found a nice downhill to Camden Ave. This section is flat and can be very fast. If you have held your pace okay, this may be a place to test your legs; Camden is a nice lengthy stretch where you may be able to pick up a little time and stretch out your stride. You are getting close to the crowds and the finish. It is almost time to get excited.
Mile 10 – You have turned right onto Division St. It is flat, but if the temperature is up, you will feel it here, not much shade and sometimes little air is moving. There is traffic again and you should notice a few more people on the course to cheer you on. You will cross the bridge headed back into downtown Parkersburg. The best thing about this mile is it leads you to mile 11 and almost home.
Mile 11- finds you on Avery St.; this area is flat for the most part, with slight upgrades. Return runners and locals will be passing this spot knowing he/she is only one block from the finish line, but it will take him/her over two miles to get there! Good news is there are some shaded spots on this road. Bad news is - OH NO!!! 13th St. HILL!!! "Good Grief super runners/walkers, what are we to do?" Even though this hill has a reputation, it is what it is, short and sweet. It is tough because your legs are tired, but there is a very nice downhill just beyond this demon that feels wonderful. You are less than two miles to finish, don’t give up hope now.
Mile 12 – Construction moved the race onto 17th St. several years ago. Mile 12 is located at St. Mary’s Ave and 17th St. After a little zig and zag, you have a straight shot to Market St. and home. I thought the road looked like it had a slight upgrade, but it didn’t feel like it when I ran it. You decide. You will turn left onto Market St. and a perpetual downhill grade to finish. You are probably getting excited by now; you deserve it, you are almost here.
Mile 13 – is located at 6th St. and Market. You can see, you can hear it, you can feel it, so go get it; the finish is downhill and fast. Leave nothing on the course and go for the gusto. I will leave the light on for you. When you see the red cross walk you can stop running. You have reach the finish line. Sharon Marks is a runner from Parkersburg, she has ran the News and Sentinel Half Marathon six times. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org