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SMITH: Two-mile race is perfect for family

Looking for something a little less intense than a half marathon? Sign up for the News and Sentinel Two-Mile Race.

Historically the News and Sentinel Half Marathon gets a lot of attention in August. It’s big, takes up the whole town and it is truly inspirational to watch. It’s also hard, in a good way.

If you are looking to be part of a great event but not ready to take 30,000 steps to do so, sign up for the Two-Mile Race.

Both the half and two-mile events start and stop at the same spot. A few minutes after the half racers get on their way on Aug. 20, the two-mile racers will line up near Third and Juliana streets.

The two-mile race is a very diverse field. Young runners normally hug the starting line eager to get a jump on the other 600-800 people behind them. Here is a tip for you. Your time doesn’t start until you cross the starting mat, being in front will only mean that the faster people behind you will soon pass you.

As soon as you start the race you will make a right turn onto Fourth Street, starting the race on the right side of the pack will mean you will pick up a little time when you make the turn since the group is fairly wide this early in the race.

After the teenagers who hang out in front, you normally find a large group of people serious about doing well in the race.

This is followed by people who are simply doing the race for fun. After them you will find the walkers, they are serious about the race, they just don’t want to get run over by the runners. After them you will find the families with the youngest participants in the event, the babies in the strollers.

Right before the start, the two-milers can look over and see the fastest of the half marathon runners start the climb up the incline toward the Juliana Street Bridge, where it crosses the Little Kanawha River.

The two-mile mark for that race is on the bridge above the south bank of the river. So, the group that you will see is running at about a 5:30 pace.

Once you start your own race, you make a large loop around the government buildings before starting back up Juliana Street. You re-cross the starting line and head up a long hill toward the Julia-Anne Historical District. You are trailing the half marathon at this point; you may pass some of the slower racers along this part of the race. They got a head start because they are actually in a different race.

When you get to 13th Street, do not follow them. If you do, you will inadvertently run about 12 miles further than you signed up for.

You will stay on 13th until Avery, where you will travel the wrong way down the middle of the street for a few blocks. Don’t worry, we have the street blocked. If you are really slow though, the fastest half marathoners will go flying past you going the opposite direction.

Soon you will be on Market Street and the long downhill to the finish line. It will have taken you anywhere from about 9 minutes and thirty seconds to get here, to around 50 minutes based on your speed and ability.

There are people of all abilities in the race. There are cross country teams that do it as a training run. There are entire families that do it as a family activity. Companies will do it as a team-building activity. Some do it because a family member is doing the half and this lets them see the start and finish of that race while at the same time doing a race of their own.

The vast number of people do it just for the joy of being part of something bigger than themselves. They do not expect to win, or place or even to set a personal record. They expect to have fun with their friends and family.

Based on the smiles on faces when they cross the finish line, I think most people do exactly that.

Art Smith is co-director the News and Sentinel races and is online manager for The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. He can be reached at asmith@newsandsentinel.com. His column about the races appears each weekend.

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