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Sanchez crosses as top American male for $1,000

August 17, 2019
By Jay W. Bennett - Sports Reporter ( , News and Sentinel Half Marathon

PARKERSBURG - Joshua Sanchez, a University of Florida graduate, figured he had a pretty good shot at earning the top prize of $1,000 for finishing as the first American at Saturday's 33rd running of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon.

Although he didn't make it into town until nearly 10 p.m. on Friday, Sanchez awoke at 5:30 a.m. and was ready to go.

"I didn't think this was going to be a PR course, but i did run a PR by about 20 seconds," admitted Sanchez, who finished seventh overall with a time of 1:09:38. "I felt pretty good for the most part. I mean definitely, probably, the most difficult half marathon I've ever done in terms of hills.

Article Photos

Photo by Madeline Scarborough
Josh Sanchez becomes the first American to cross the line during the 33rd running of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon Saturday around Parkersburg.

"It started getting hot around mile 3. The pace for the shape I'm in if this course is flat I probably could've held 5:08 to 5:12. I tried doing that, I mean."

The elite runners finished the first mile in 4 minutes and 43 seconds, which was a little fast for Sanchez, who stayed close for a bit.

"I ran a 4:52 and I was thinking nope, back off a little bit," he said. "I mean, obviously I got caught up in the first mile because I went out with the Africans for about the first mile and a half, two miles.

"Originally, I told myself going in I was going to stay back about 20 meters. I did catch two or three throughout the length of the course."

Despite the fact he didn't have a chance to drive the course, Sanchez said he did some research to try and understand what he was going to be up against.

"I looked up online the elevation gain and I was expecting miles 2 and 3 to be on a steeper climb gradually and then rolling hills inbetween and the next really hard hill was on 13th Street, which I did not expect to be that steep.

"I felt like it was California hills, you know, take the long board and go down."

Former Belpre High School running standout Breydon Gates finished in 1 hour, 16 minutes and 8 seconds to claim the $500 runner-up prize money.

"I enjoyed it and I'd definitely do it again," Sanchez added. "It's very pretty out here. I really wanted to hold around a 5:08-5:10 (pace). Even with the hills, I went out and averaged 5:08 for the first 5 miles."

Another first-time runner of the half marathon was 41-year-old Julius Kiptoo, who runs out of Bowling Green, Ohio.

"I was doing my best. I was trying. It's a tough one," admitted Kiptoo, who won the $750 top prize for the masters title with a time of 1:16:08, which topped runner-up Joey Zins (1:17:51; $400) of Export, Pa.

"Oh, man, this course is tough. I came strong at the beginning and that first lady (Vicoty Chepngeno) was pushing me too crazy so that's where I had to fall off. She killed me though, but I thank her for pushing me."

Kiptoo said he had a wonderful experience and plans on coming back.

"It was good," he said. "The spectators were great. I like them cheering along the way."

In other races, Michael Villani of Virginia Beach posted a winning time of 1:38:26 to secure $750 and the grand masters title. Buckeye Bill Long, of Berea, also claimed $750 for his senior grand masters crown as he finished in 1:33:23.

Contact Jay Bennett at



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