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Ex-half champ Alene Reta is top American finisher

Became citizen in 2017

August 18, 2018
Jay W. Bennett - Sports Writer ( , News and Sentinel Half Marathon

PARKERSBURG - Longtime fans of The News and Sentinel Half Marathon may have noticed an old familiar face competing on Saturday morning.

The 32nd running of the 13.1-mile race had some tough competition, but the honors for top American went to Alene Reta.

Reta, who won the local race here three straight years from 2007-09, became a United States citizen in 2017.

Article Photos

Photo by Jeff Baughan
Alene Reta crosses the finish line as the first American during Saturday’s Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon.

"Today, I just wanted to run top five," Reta said while getting a rubdown shortly after crossing the finish line.

That's exactly what the New York, New York, resident placed thanks to his time of 1 hour, 7 minutes and 49 seconds, which enabled him to claim the $1,000 check for top American as Colorado's Fernando Cabada (8th overall, 1:09:41) was the second American and earned $500.

"I got an injury, a hip injury, and I didn't run for like four years," Reta admitted. "I stopped racing. Now, I am healed and back running. I'm OK now. I just need more speed work and more training and prepare for more races for the future."

Reta said he had competed recently at a half marathon in Texas, but noted "the course is flat, not like here."

Now 36 years of age, Reta was more than content with his showing on Saturday.

Although he wasn't part of the pack of five which broke away following the first few miles, Reta managed to run his race as he finished 3 minutes and 49 seconds off the pace of now eight-time winner Julius Kogo.

"Kogo, that is my friend," said Reta, who had his four-peat chances thwarted by Kogo back in 2010 as Reta settled for third place. "I go back home and I need more training. Sometimes I still go back to Ethiopia and I train in a group. I need to go back for more training there."

While Reta said he is "back to 100 percent" he added the 92 percent humidity wasn't his favorite thing to deal with on Saturday.

"Sometimes humidity is very bad for me because I have asthma you know," Reta added. "So that's what happens and sometimes I can't breathe good. The race was good and I am happy for that. More and more, I still need more training and to prepare more."

Reta was a late addition to the field because he wanted to make sure his body had recovered from his most recent race.

"At the beginning, I had a lack of confidence after the injury, but I'm feeling very well now and happy I'm back running around," Reta continued. "I love it here, all the people.

"(Race director) Chip (Allman) is a good organizer and he invites a lot of African athletes. Everybody is standing on the race and cheering and the people are great."

In other races, the masters title went to Derrick Jones of Henrietta, New York (1:20:12, $750) while the $400 runner-up prize was collected by Orinthal Striggles of Charleston, South Carolina after he clocked in at 1:22.39.

John Eric Ashton of Columbia, South Carolina, finished in 1:16:54 for the $750 top prize in the grand masters division. Also taking top honors and $750 as the senior grand masters victor was George Sellers of Jackson, Ohio, who had a final time of 1:29:33.



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