PARKERSBURG - In the Tiny Tot Trot races, everybody's No. 1. And that's not just because every bib number reflects that. "We never have anybody go away tearful, which is a positive thing to say about this race," said Tiny Tot Trot event coordinator Mona Moore. "Everyone gets a medal, a T-shirt and leaves with a smile on their face." The Tiny Tot Trot is held in conjunction with the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon races. Following the conclusion of Saturday's half-marathon and two-mile competitions, the volunteers turn their attention to Sunday's Tiny Tot Trot. Preparations have to be made for nearly 400 toddlers. "It's unbelievable what happens on Sunday," Moore said. "The littlest kids are out in masses. They are adorable. "Sunday's races are a culmination of the half marathon event. You feel so satisfied and rewarded watching these kids. It makes the whole weekend worthwhile." The Tiny Tot Trot was originally known at the Shoney Bear Races and was held on the streets of downtown Parkersburg on the same day as the half marathon. In the early 1990s, the event was moved to upper Market Street and according to Moore, "that's when we started having age group races." Eventually the venue was changed to Parkersburg High School's Stadium Field. And that's where it has stayed even to this day. Parking for the parents is no longer an issue as it had been in the past when race coordinators had to block off streets with barricades. "The school was good enough to share the facility," Moore said. The Tiny Trot is designed for children ages 5-and-under. Races begin at 1 p.m. Parents are encouraged to pre-register their children, but may arrive on race day and fill out entry forms starting at 11 a..m. and ending just prior to the start of the races. Participants may register by mail or online (through the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Web site at www.newsandsentinel.com) or at the Runners Expo on Friday. The cost is $5 per individual. "This race is a way to promote health and fitness, and get kids outside away from computers and television," Moore said. Distances vary for each age group, increasing in length as ages increase. For instance, the finish line for children ages 1-and-under is 50 meters from the start line. The 5 year olds run for approximately 100 meters. Moore admits awards ceremonies are kept low-key, but continue to honor the first- and second-place finishers in each age group with trophies. "The purpose of this event is to promote participation and not competition," she said. Sportsmanship has also been brought to the forefront. In fact, Moore noted that one year a child who did not finish first or second received a trophy by mistake turned right around and told race officials about the oversight and returned the hardware. "That said a lot about her character for someone at such a young age," Moore said. For the most part, children usually find the finish line without too much trouble. However, one year the race committee brought in the Pittsburgh Pirates' Parrot mascot to encourage children at the finish line. The idea was well-intentioned, but the results did not materialize. "The kids were petrified and wouldn't go to the finish line," Moore said. "We've learned to leave well enough alone. Sometimes, less is more."
Tiny Tot Trot ? What: Tiny Tot Trot ? When: 1 p.m. Sunday ? Where: Stadium Field, located on the campus of Parkersburg High School ? Who: Children from 1-and-under to 5-and-under. The Tiny Tot Trot consists of 10 separate races, five age groups for boys and five age groups for girls. Those in the 1, 2 and 3-and-under races will run 50 meters. Those in the 4- and 5-and-under races will run 100 meters. ? How to register: Registration can be done online at www.newsandsentinelhalfmarathon.com, at the Parkersburg City Building on Friday or on race day at Stadium Field, beginning at 11 a.m. Registration fee is $5 ? Prizes: All participants in the Tiny Tot Trot will receive bib No. 1. Each participant will receive a medal and a special race T-shirt. The top two finishers in each race will be awarded a trophy.