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Early history of the race

May 5, 2009
News and Sentinel Half Marathon
In its early years, the News and Sentinel Half Marathon built a national reputation by attracting some of the world's best distance runners.

In 1990, the prestige of the annual race was enhanced by the honor of hosting the United States' national men's championship for the half marathon distance. Then, in 1998 the Half Marathon gained the designation of being the women's national championship race as well. The race would also determine the selections for the team to represent the U.S. in the half marathon World Championships in Zurich, Switzerland.

Past champions in the race's four major running categories - men's and women's overall and Masters - have hailed from the United States, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Kenya, Russia, Brazil, and France. The international flavor returned to the field in 2002 when the race lost its designation as the U.S. Men's and Women's Half Marathon Championships. But, that did little to dwindle the interest the race had gained over the years.

 A strong contingent of Kenyans dominated both the men's and women's divisions. The first Half Marathon was run in 1987, but the event's origin actually dates back to 1985, when the Parkersburg News & Sentinel sponsored the Bicentennial Half Marathon in conjunction with the city's 200th birthday celebration.

After a year without a half marathon here, Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital picked up the sponsorship and made the race part of the annual homecoming celebration in 1987. Only 267 runners crossed the finish line in 1987, with the best among them sharing from the $8,000 total purse. The number of finishers climbed to 1,316 in 1993.

Last year nearly 1,000 runners and walkers took part  in the race, and the prize money now totals more than $25,000, including $3,000 each to the first male and female finisher and $1,000 each to the first Masters male and female as well as the first U.S. male and female. Here's a look at the year-by-year history of the event:

- 1987 - MEN: Colorado's Jon Sinclair established the course record of 1:06:08 in the inaugural event after pulling away on the decisive 13th Street hill section of the course, winning by 18 seconds over Mark Strickley. WOMEN: Kelly Cathey of Phoenix placed ninth overall and took home the top female prize after crossing in 1:15:27. MASTERS: Mexico's Antonio Villanueva established what would become the Half Marathon's international flavor by winning the men's Masters (40 and older) race in 1:10:54. Fairmont's Mary Mlinarcik was the women's Masters champ, finishing in 1:36:29. WHEELCHAIR: Richard Lowe of Follansbee rolled across in 1:17:06. FINISHERS: 267.

- 1988 - MEN: Richard Kaitainy gave Parkersburg a glimpse of running's future when he became the first Kenyan to win the race. Running through a steady rainfall in his first race after a three-year layoff, Kaitany held off Mexican Olympian Martin Mondragon by two seconds to set a new course record (1:04:24). WOMEN: The female record also tumbled when New Zealand's Christine McMilken took top honors with a clocking of 1:14:24. MASTERS: Barb Filutz of Erie, Pa., broke the women's Masters mark by more that 14 minutes (1:22:26). Athol Barton of Rockville, Md., was the men's Masters champ after coming home in 1:11:41. WHEELCHAIR: Jo Ann Shoup of Baden, Pa., was the event's first female wheelchair champion, finishing in 1:52:05, and Lowe was the Half Marathon's first repeat winner, taking the men's event in 1:34:31. FINISHERS: 397.

- 1989 - MEN: Kenya's Steve Kogo took advantage of unusually cool weather and a blistering pace to shatter the course record by nearly two minutes (1:02:35). Sinclair, the runner-up, finished nearly two minutes behind Kogo. WOMEN: Diane Brewer of Gainesville, Fla., the 1988 runner-up, set a course record (1:13:12) in topping the women's field. MASTERS: Earl Owens of Dunwoody, Ga., set a men's record (1:10:37), while Jane Buch of Smithville, Ohio, captured the women's Masters crown in 1:24:28. WHEELCHAIR: Ken Carnes of Morningside, Md., knocked nearly 40 minutes off the men's wheelchair mark with a 54:39 clocking. The women's record also fell as Rose Winand of Wilmerding, Pa., came across in 1:25:51. FINISHERS: 611.

- 1990 - MEN: Kogo bettered his own course record by 10 seconds, finishing in 1:02:25. For the first time, the race was The Athletics Congress national championship for the Half Marathon distance, and Mark Curp on the U.S. title. WOMEN: Patty Murray of Park Ridge, Ill., running in her first Half Marathon, finished first in 1:12:26, cutting 16 seconds off Brewer's course record mark. MASTERS: Canadian Ken Hamilton of Maple, Ont., set a men's Masters course record (1:09:10). The women's mark also fell, to Nancy Oshier of Rush, N.Y., won finished in 1:19:24. WHEELCHAIR: Candace Cable of Truckee, Ga., set a women's record (1:04:16) that still stands. She even beat the men's wheelchair champ, Joseph Dowling of Greenwich, Conn., who finished in 1:08:21. FINISHERS: 961.

- 1991 - MEN: Sinclair, finishing in 1:03:44, joined Kogo in the ranks of two-time men's champions by scoring a four-second win over Mexico's Andres Espinoza. Along the way, Sinclair became the second U.S. men's national champion crowned in Parkersburg. WOMEN: Olga Markova, the first Russian to run in the event, smashed the women's course record by more than a minute, with a clocking of 1:11:42. Diane Brewer Bussa's time of 1:12:51 also would have been a record, but the 1989 champ had to settle for second. MASTERS: Nancy Grayson of Columbia, S.C., set a women's record (1:17:45). Alan Oman of Central Islip, N.Y., was the men's Masters winner with a 1:12:42 effort. WHEELCHAIR: Carnes shattered his previous course record with a clocking of 50 minutes and 10 seconds. Winand (1:05:33) became another two-time winner. FINISHERS: 1,193.

- 1992 - MEN: Kenya reclaimed the spotlight as Godfrey Kiprotich (1:02:34) and countryman Sammy Nyangincha (1:02:42) finished one-two, separated by just eight seconds. Don Janicki of Louisville, Colo., won the U.S. national title in 1:03:44. WOMEN: The women's finish was even closer as Trina Painter of Austin, Tex., finished in 1:12:33  just seven seconds ahead of Bussa. MASTERS: Gary Romesser of Indianapolis set a men's Masters mark (1:06:41). Grayson doubled up on the women's side, winning in 1:19:17. WHEELCHAIR: Carnes became the event's first three-time champion after finishing in 54:08. Charleston's Diane McClure won the women's race in 1:18:17. FINISHERS: 1,236.

- 1993 - MEN: Brazil's Delmir Dos Santos challenged Kogo's course record, but came up just 12 seconds short, finishing in 1:02:37. Utah's Ed Eyestone finished second and captured the U.S. national championship in a time of 1:03:19. USA Track & Field replaced The Athletics Congress as the governing body for the U.S. championships event. WOMEN: Jennifer Martin of Erie, Pa., won the women's title in 1:14:41, the slowest winner's time since the inaugural race in 1987. MASTERS: Grayson (1:20:32) became the first Parkersburg Half-Marathoner to capture three consecutive championships, while Ric Sayre (1:06:41) of Ashland, Ore., missed Romesser's men's Masters record by a mere second. WHEELCHAIR: Ken Archer of Bowie, Md., took over where Carnes left off by winning the men's event in 54:52. The women's wheelchair race went to Toledo, Ohio's Debbie Laplante (1:12:16). FINISHERS: 1,316.

- 1994 - MEN: Kiprotich joined Sinclair and Kogo as two-time champions, finishing first in a time of 1:03:10. The Kenyan pulled away from Ecuador's Rolando Vera in the home stretch down Market Street to win by 11 seconds. Rodney DeHaven of Madison, Wis., captured the U.S. championship in a time of 1:03:38. WOMEN: France's Nadia Prasad, who pulled out of the 1993 event with an aching back after the first eight miles, scored an easy win this time. Prasad's winning time of 1:11:55 was just 13 seconds off Markova's course record set in 1991. MASTERS: Brazil's Joao Da Silva won the men's Masters in 1:09:44, while Claudia Ciaveralla of Arlington, Va., won in 1:25:30 to break Grayson's string of three straight female wins. WHEELCHAIR: Mentor, Ohio native Edward Keating's winning time (53:59) was the fastest since 1991. McClure won her second female title in 1:14:20. FINISHERS: 1,306.

- 1995 - MEN: Kiprotich finished first in 1:03:38 to become the first three-time champion and join Kogo as back-to-back winners. Steve Spence of Chambersburg, Pa., finished fourth overall to win the U.S. men's championship in 1:04:42. WOMEN: Brazil's Carmen De Oliveria finished first in 1:13:22, more than two minutes ahead of her nearest competitor. MASTERS: Grayson (1:23:07) copped her fourth women's Masters title, while Sayre (1:10:53) repeated his '93 men's crown. WHEELCHAIR: McClure (1:15:00) repeated in the women's race, while Rich Wagner of Columbus took the men's crown in 55:04. FINISHERS: 1,306.

- 1996 - MEN: For the first time since Sinclair's second win in 1991, an American citizen won the Parkersburg Half-Marathon. In the 10th running of the race, Mexico native Alfredo Vigueras - who received his citizenship earlier in the year -finished in 1:04:00, 21 seconds ahead of Jerry Lawson. WOMEN: Lynn Nelson of Fort Collins, Colo., captured her first Parkersburg title, winning in 1:12:50. MASTERS: Male Masters record holder Romesser returned to capture his second title in 1:08:59. Alice Thurau of Fisher, Pa., turned in the fastest winning women's Masters time (1:18:47) since Grayson set the course record in 1991. WHEELCHAIR: McClure (1:20:03) made it four overall and three straight in the women's division, and John Gilger of North Olmsted, Ohio, won the men's event in 58:28. FINISHERS: 982.

- 1997 - MEN: David Morris of Albuquerque, N.M., wasn't among the pre-race favorites, but came out of nowhere to win in 1:05:53 - the slowest winning time since Sinclair won the inaugural race in 1987. DeHaven was second, 17 seconds back. WOMEN: Canada's Liodmila Alexeeff won the title, but her winning time (1:17:20) was the slowest for the female champion in the race's 11-year history. MASTERS: Steve Placencia of Eugene, Ore., finished ninth overall in 1:08:37 to win the Masters crown. Doris Windsand-Dausma of Kingsport, Tenn., won the women's event in 1:23:13, also the slowest winning time in the class. WHEELCHAIR: McClure (1:23:13) continued the trend of the slowest winning times as she won for the fourth straight year. Gilger (53:10) was also a repeat champion and cut more than five minutes off his winning time of a year earlier. FINISHERS: 897.

- 1998 - MEN: Breaking away at the 5-mile mark, DeHaven, who was second the year before, won the 12th annual Parkersburg Half-Marathon by a lopsided margin (1:03:42). His winning time was more than a minute ahead of runner-up Pete DeLaCerta (1:04:48) of Alamosa, Colo. WOMEN: Utilizing her sprint speed over the final 400 meters, Libbie Hickman of Fort Collins, Colo., outdueled Shelly Steely to capture her first-ever Parkersburg Half Marathon with a time of 1:13:29. MASTERS: Windsand-Dausma made it two-in-a-row in '98, winning in a time of 1:26:47. Winning his first men's Masters title was Thomas Mather of Mount Pleasant, S.C., (1:11:07). WHEELCHAIR: Five became the magic number for McClure as she cruised to her fifth straight title  and sixth overall  with a clocking of 1:25:06. The men's champion was Rich Wagner of Columbus (1:00:04). FINISHERS: 921.

- 1999 - MEN: Pre-race favorite Todd Williams from Knoxville, Tenn., waited until the 12-mile mark of the race before making his move and the strategy paid off as he won with a time of 1:04:24. It was the closest finish in race history as second place Scott Larson crossed the line in 1:04:26 and third and fourth were just seven seconds behind. WOMEN: Gwynn Coogan celebrated her 34th birthday in fine style by capturing her first Parkersburg Half Marathon title. The Frederick, Md., native won with a time of 1:12:36. MASTERS: This was a Russian sweep as Marina Belyaeva ended Windsand-Dausma's two-year reign and came within 13 seconds of Grayson's course record with her winning time of 1:17:58 while countryman Andrey Kuznetsov took the men's race with a time of 1:07:21. While both were Russian, both listed Rockville, Md. as their home. WHEELCHAIR: The beat went on for McClure as her time of 1:24:00 was good enough for her sixth straight title. Butch Martin, from Fishers, Ind., led from start to finish in bringing home his first Parkersburg Half-Marathon title with a clocking of 53 minutes, six seconds. FINISHERS: 1,034.

- 2000 - MEN: Olympic qualifier and 1998 Parkersburg Half Marathon champion Rod DeHaven broke out of a three-way pack with Todd Reeser and Phillimon Hanneck at the six-mile marker and cruised to victory in a time of one hour, 4 minutes and 13 seconds. Reeser finished over one minute behind (1:04:13) while Hanneck was third, just 10 seconds behind Reeser. Joining them on the team that would represent the U.S. at the Half Marathon World Championships at Veracruz, Mexico, were Clint Verran (1:04:53) and Shawn Found (1:04:59). WOMEN: It was 1998 all over again for the women as well as Olympian Libbie Hickman captured a 19-second victory over runner-up Sylvia Mosqueda. In the process, the Ft. Collins, Colorado-native broke Russian Olga Markova's 1991 course record of one hour, 11 minutes and 42 seconds by 41 seconds winning with a time of 1:11:01. Mosqueda, who finished second with a time of 1:11:20, and third place finisher Kelly Cordell (1:14:12) qualified for the United States team that would participate in the Half Marathon World Championships in Veracruz, Mexico. MASTERS: A pair of record-setting performances were turned in here as Ft. Collins, Colorado's Sam Ngatia blew away the competition in winning the division with a time of 1:06:33 while Albuquerque, New Mexico's Marie Boyd won in likewise fashion, crossing the finish line in a time of 1:17:39. The old records were held by Gary Romesser (1:06:40) in 1992 and Nancy Grayson (1:17:45) in 1991. WHEELCHAIR: Butch Martin, from Fishers, Ind., captured his second consecutive Parkersburg Half Marathon title with a time of 54:22 while McClure took home title number seven in a row (1:28:08). FINISHERS: 965 -

2001 - MEN: First time entrant Dan Browne outkicked runner-up Keith Dowling to the Market Street finish line, winning in a time of 1:03:55-four seconds ahead of Dowling's 1:03:59. Finishing third was Scott Larson (1:04:22) while defending champ and three-time winner Rod DeHaven had to settle for fourth (1:04:38). Rounding out the top five and earning a spot on the U.S. team that would compete in the world championships in Bristol, England, was Chad Johnson (1:04:46). WOMEN: Just like the men's race, the women's would find a first- time entrant crossing the finish line ahead of the pack. Milena Glusac, from Fallbrook, Calif., led the 13.1-mile race from start-to-finish to add the USATF Half Marathon title to her 20K championship won earlier in the summer. Glusac's winning time of 1:12:33 was nearly a minute faster than runner-up Sylvia Mosqueda's 1:13:21. Coming in third, and also earning a spot on the U.S. world marathon team, was Susannah Beck (1:14:29). MASTERS: Here again the 15th Parkersburg Half Marathon saw a pair of first-time winners. Eddy Hellebuyck from Albuquerque, N.M., finished more than three minutes ahead of his nearest competitor to capture the mens' crown with a time of 1:07:27 while New York's Gordan Bakolis won in similiar fashion with a time of 1:19:38. WHEELCHAIR: Defending champion Butch Martin made it three in a row and nearly broke Kenneth Carnes' 1991 record of 50:10 when he cruised across the finish line with a time of 50 minutes, 25 seconds. Eight-time women's champion Diana McClure was unable to compete this year because of an equipment failure. FINISHERS: 993 -

2002 - MEN: To the surprise of no one, Kenyans dominated the first running of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon. Runners from the world's most famous running nation nailed down the first eight spots in the men's race, led by 24-year old Gabriel Muchiri, who won the race with a time of one hour, 3 minutes and 43 seconds. WOMEN: Any suspense in this race was over by the five-mile mark as Kenyan Teresa Wanjiku captured her first News and Sentinel Half Marathon in a time of one hour, 11 minutes and 55 seconds. Not only was the time a personal best for Wanjiku, but it also was good enough for her to defeat countrywoman Gladys Asiba, who had beaten her at the Ogden 20K in Wheeling earlier in the year. MASTERS: Lee DiPietro not only made true her promise to return to Parkersburg and capture the Masters title that slipped through her fingers 12 months earlier, but in the process kept the Kenyans from making it a clean sweep of the individual championships. DiPietro, who finished second to New York's Gordan Bakolis last year, completed the 13.1-mile course in one hour, 25 minutes and 35 seconds. Winning the men's crown was 42-year old Andrew Masai in 1:07.24. WHEELCHAIR: It took not one, but two flat tires to end defending champion Butch Martin's stranglehold on the championship. Taking advantage of Martin's plight was Medina, Ohio's Jeff Fisher, who won with a time of 1:04:25. For the second year in a row, no females participated in the race. FINISHERS: 812 -

2003 - MEN: For a while, it appeared Kenyan Augustus Kavutu was going to pull off a West Virginia double. Kavutu, who won the Ogden 20K Classic in Wheeling in May, appeared to be well on his way to victory in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon. But he couldn't shake fellow Kenyan John Gwako, who won in one hour, three minutes and 35 seconds, 25 seconds ahead of runner-up Kavutu. WOMEN: What a difference a week makes. While leading the seven-mile Falmouth Road Run in Massachusetts with 200 meters remaining, Russia's Olga Romanova came to a sudden stop and was not able to finish the race. But she not only finished the News and Sentinel Half Marathon, but she also won the race in a time of 1:12:15. MASTERS: For the second time in four years, both course records in the Masters' Division were broken. Kenyan Jackson Kipng'ok eliminated Sam Ngatia's name from the books when he covered the 13.1-mile distance in 1:05:01 while Russia's Ramilia Burangulova did the same to New Mexico's Marie Boyd when she crossed the finish line in 1:17:09. WHEELCHAIR: For the third year, no female wheelchair athletes entered the News and Sentinel Half Marathon. Winning his first title in Parkersburg was Chad Johnson from New Salisburg, Ind. He won the race with a time of 1:07:35. RACEWALK: In only its second year, Wellsville, Ohio's Barb Kornbau eclipsed the old course mark of 2:29.07 by nearly 15 minutes, winning with a time of 2:14.41. Tom Gerhardt of Chesapeake, Va., won the men's division with a time of 2:19.56. FINISHERS: 738

-2004 - MEN: After training in the mountains of his native Kenya, 28-year-old Isaac Arusei had little trouble traversing the rolling hills of Parkersburg. Running in the United States for the first time, Arusei dominated a strong international field of runners to with the 18th edition of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 12 seconds. WOMEN: Running in her first News and Sentinel Half Marathon one year ago, Alevtina Ivanova allowed her competition to break away from her near the halfway point and never could recover, finishing third in a time of 1 hour, 13 minutes and 44 seconds. However, Ivanova learned her lesson well. This time it was the 29-year-old who would be the one to make the breakaway move at the five-mile mark, never looking back in capturing her first title in a time of 1 hour, 12 minutes and 24 seconds. MASTERS: Ohio native Debbi Kilpatrick was the first woman to cross the finish line, but the 40-year-old's strong finish in the overall standings-where she finished third and collected a $1,500 purse-gave the victory in the Masters Division to Lee DiPietro of Ruxton, Md. On the men's side, Kenya's Abrahim Limo was the victor when he crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 9 minutes and 9 seconds. WHEELCHAIR: For the third year in a row, a new face adorned the victory stand as 44-year-old Dane Pilon captured the race in 1 hour, 10 minutes and 40 seconds. Finishing second was Mike Gilliam with Gary Baker taking third. For the fourth year in a row, no females were represented in the race. RACEWALK: Controversy reigned as men and women competed in the event for the third year. Defending champion-and course record-holder-Barb Kornbau and first place male Shane Phillips were both disqualified for using improper technique during the 13.1-mile race, giving the victories to Roberta Snouffer of Bridgeport, Ohio and Greg Woodfin of Wheeling. FINISHERS: 669

-2005 - MEN: Kenyan Francis Bowen used a late kick to garner victory in his first time competing in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon. The 31-year old completed the 13.1-mile course in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 42 seconds ekeing out a six second victory over Ethophian Alene Reta. Kenyans swept to eight of the top 10 placers in the race. The first American was Columbus, Ohio's Josh Ordway, who completed the race in 1:07:37 WOMEN: No new record was set, but a new champion was crowned in the 19th annual race. Russians again dominated the top spots as 23-year old Tatyana Chulakh outkicked defending champion Alevtina Ivanova down Market Street for her first win in Parkersburg. Chulakh, who one week earlier won the San Diego Half Marathon, covered the 13.1-mile distance in 1 hour, 15 minutes and 34 seconds-one second ahead of Ivanova. The first American to cross the finish line was Southwest Missouri State all-American Casey Owens, who completed the race in 1:21:59. MASTERS: Tammy Slusser, who had been coming to Parkersburg for several years, finally got to taste victory when the Monroeville, Pa.-native captured the Masters crown with a clocking of 1 hour, 23 minutes and 14 seconds, beating Russian Tatiana Titova by over a minute. The men's winner was also a first timer as Latrobe, Pa.'s Michael McGee took a 30 second win over Vienna, Ohio's Terry McCluskey. WHEELCHAIR: For the fourth year in a row a new face adorned the victory stand as 54-year-old Marshall Edwards captured the race in 54 minutes and 9 seconds. Finishing second was Chad Johnson with Gary Baking taking third for the second year in a row. For the fifth year in a row no females were represented in the race. RACEWALK: World class racewalker Matthew Boyles returned to the Mid-Ohio Valley and crushed the course record in his first attempt, covering the 13.1-mile distance in an amazing 1 hour, 42 minutes and 43 seconds-35 minutes better than the previous mark. FINISHERS: 801


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