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Bike patrol on duty for Half Marathon

July 22, 2011
PARKERSBURG - The bike patrol will be back at it again when the 25th running of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon takes place on Aug. 20.

While River City Runners and Walkers Club member Donna Kramer was the first to propose and head the bike patrol as an extra safety measure, the duties have been passed on to Hayden Lancaster.

The current plan is for Lancaster, Candace Jones, Doug Kreinik and Lancaster's daughter Elise Freed, who will be coming in for the race from North Carolina, to serve as bike patrol members this year. However, that list could grow by one.

"Doug, Candace and I have done it for a number of years now with either my daughter helping or someone else from the community," Lancaster said.

Lancaster has learned a lot of lessons during his time working on the bike patrol. That includes an instance where he thought a runner was struggling mightily, only to find out the person didn't need any help at all.

"Pretty much I learned some people run that way and look that way all the time," he said. "You shouldn't ask.

"Just wait for the person to ask for help or watch for them to stop. You can really irritate somebody that looks in stress and they're not."

Of course, the basic function of the bike patrol members it to keep an eye out for runners or walkers in distress and then help them out as necessary.

Another area of concern, especially if it's not a cool race morning, is heat-related problems, although Lancaster said they also run into people who have turned ankles.

"We try to spread out during the early part of the race, but as the race ends we go to the back to make sure that the last person who wants to finish is escorted to the finish," Lancaster added.

"Last year we had a gentleman in his 80s who came in just in front of the parade and by completing the race he got an award for his age group."

One of the most troubling aspects of the race is the threat of motor vehicles coming onto the course and that poses a threat to the runners as well.

"We have chased down vehicles to get them off the course," Lancaster said. "A bike has very good acceleration so if you are close to someone you can catch them and run them down.

"Sometimes we just ask the police to go get them and get them off the course. We do have that problem almost every year."

Lancaster joked that Kreinik, who formerly was in charge of the race walk before coming over to the bike patrol, "wanted to switch to bike control since we got the fancy bike patrol shirts, so I give him a hard time about that."

Obviously, it's volunteers like the members of the bike patrol along with everyone else that keeps making this half marathon a success where people want to come race the course again and again.

"It's enjoyable to be part of the atmosphere," Lancaster added. "It's a way of giving service. It's good to do what you can to try and keep it going. That's my incentive."



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