PARKERSBURG -Marietta's Tim Finkel had won the walk championship of virtually every other road race in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
On Saturday, Finkel celebrated one of the biggest victories of his career when he captured the men's division of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon.
The 54-year-old completed the 13.1-mile course in 2 hours, 19 minutes, to defeat his nearest rival, runnerup Jeff Musser of Racine, Ohio, by a minute and 25 seconds. Another Marietta resident, 47-year-old David Torbett, placed third in 2:21:51.
Tim Finkel, Men’s walk winner
Finkel, who works in production assembly at Thermo Fisher Scientific, wasn't the first walker to cross the finish line and thus didn't know he had won.
But race officials disqualified the apparent winner for running, thrusting Finkel into the top spot.
"I thought there was someone ahead of me and that I got second,'' said Finkel, a fixture at local road races.
He was participating in his sixth half marathon of the year and plans to do three more.
Although he was the overall walk winner of last year's prestigious Columbus Half Marathon, Finkel said winning Saturday's race was special.
"This is a good one,'' said Finkel, who walks every day and attempts to do at least 35 miles per week.
Residents of Marietta no doubt have seen Finkel and his 100-pound Labrador Retriever, Buck, tackling the hill that leads to Marietta Memorial Hospital.
Finkel is a member of the River City Runners and Walkers Club, an organization about which he has nothing but praise. Finkel has formed a bond with other local walkers such as Randy Skidmore and Jay Smith. Although they compete against each other on race days, they are friends who encourage one another.
Finkel was satisfied with his performance on Saturday. He had been finishing half marathons in the 2:22 to 2:23 range so this was a pretty typical performance.
"It was a perfect morning,'' he said of the 63-degree weather that greeted competitors as Mayor Bob Newell started the race. Eventually, the sun came out and the temperature rose, but never to an unbearable level.
Finkel thoroughly enjoyed his time on the course.
"There isn't a dead spot on the entire course,'' he said. "No matter where you are at, there is someone there to offer you encouragement.''
Finkel also praised the other unique features of the Parkersburg race, especially the number and the quality of the water stops, of which he takes advantage.
Finkel is a low-key individual who seems to take things in stride.
On Saturday, he had the fastest stride on the course and captured one of the biggest victories of his career.