Countdown For Ogden 20K Begins

WHEELING – Back by popular demand, the 5K Walk for Health will once again be part of the Ogden Newspapers 20K Classic Run and Walk, which returns May 28-29 for its 34th installment in the Friendly City.

And this year’s Torch Relay, scheduled to kick off the two-day slate of events on Friday, May 28, will honor multiple generations of dedication to America by featuring area war veterans in addition to local and state personalities including West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin.

“We’re going to return the 5K Walk for Health, with prizes, in union with the 5K Run,” said race Director Robert “Scat” Scatterday, who is hard at work making final preparations for race weekend.

The 5K Walk for Health is back after a one-year hiatus. In 2009, the event was merged with the 5K Run, due to difficulty in verifying results for walkers and monitoring the course to ensure walkers aren’t running. However, Scatterday said feedback from that decision was overwhelming, so while the starter’s pistol for both races will go off at 8:15 a.m. Saturday, May 29, there again will be separate awards categories for runners and walkers.

“We realize how important the5K walk is to our participants, and we are pleased to bring it back for 2010,” said Scatterday.

Other events scheduled during the Ogden Newspapers 20K Classic Run and Walk include the main event – the 20K Run and the 20K Walk, along with the 20K Relay; the Ogden Mile; the Masters Mile; the Ogden Fun Run and Ogden Tiny Tot Trot, sponsored by Ohio Valley Parent.

The 20K events, along with the 5K, take place on May 29. The mile events, fun run and tot trot take place the evening of May 28.

Scatterday noted participation appears to be up in most categories.

While that fact is encouraging, he added the increased numbers are highlighting the need to focus on safety.

“We are enhancing specific efforts to ensure runner safety throughout the race courses,” Scatterday said. “Keeping runners in the running lanes and out of the vehicle lanes is our goal.”

That will be accomplished through more traffic cones, better signage and increased presence of safety personnel on the course “in places of acute risk,” he said. One runner last year was struck by a vehicle, Scatterday said, though that man was not seriously hurt and was able to finish the race.

He identified left turns on Wheeling Hill and Chicken Neck Hill as particularly troublesome areas where race participants often put themselves at risk by leaving the course. “You can’t do that,” said Scatterday.

Also presenting possible traffic concerns on Friday, May 28, is John Marshall High School’s graduation ceremony scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at WesBanco Arena. More details about traffic patterns that evening will be forthcoming as race day approaches.

This year, proceeds from the race will benefit construction of a Miracle League of the Ohio Valley baseball field at the J.B. Chambers Interstate 470 ballfield complex. The $500,000 project is the dream of Wheeling resident Lorraine McCardle, who has a 9-year-old son, Austin, suffering from Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease, a genetic condition that requires him to use a walker. McCardle has spent nearly two years working to bring a special synthetic playing field to the area so her son and other area children with special needs can play baseball.

Race weekend festivities will get under way at 4 p.m. Friday, May 28 with the celebrity Torch Relay, which will begin at the Osiris Shrine Temple in Elm Grove and covers the last six miles of the 20K course. Around 5 p.m., the procession will meet up with a group of Gulf War veterans, who will bear the torch up Wheeling Hill to the windmill.

There, they will pass the torch to a group of Vietnam War veterans, who will proceed down Chapline Street to the historical marker, where Korean War veterans will join the procession.

“These three groups will continue down the hill to the old Lincoln School, where they’ll meet the World War II vets,” said Scatterday. “All four veteran groups will proceed to the Federal Building, where the governor, who has been leading the entire relay, will take the torch and lead participants down to the finish line around 5:45 p.m.”

An Oglebay Park trolley will be on hand for the relay to assist those who may have trouble walking. After the relay finishes, Manchin will perform a short ceremony at Wheeling’s Heritage Port. A Blackhawk helicopter landing and C-130 aircraft flyover are planned but not yet confirmed, Scatterday noted.

Friday night’s activities will continue at 6:45 p.m. with the Ogden Tiny Tot Trot, a 100-yard race for children ages 5 and under, that begins underneath the WesBanco skyway on 14th Street. At 7:15 p.m. is the Ogden Fun Run, a one-mile race starting at the top of Wheeling Hill, for children 12 and under and adults; and the Ogden Mile (ages 13-39) and Masters Mile (ages 40 and over) beginning at 7:30 p.m., also at the top of Wheeling Hill.

Other confirmed participants for the Torch Relay include City Manager Robert Herron, Ohio County Administrator Greg Stewart, Ohio County Sheriff Pat Butler, and local television personalities Brenda Danehart and Leigh Ann Towne.

Scatterday said late registration for the 20K races will take place from 5-8 p.m. May 28 and continue on Saturday, May 29 from 6 a.m. until race time. The 20K Walk begins at 7:30 a.m., with both the 20K Run and 20K Relay Run kicking off at 8 a.m. The 5K events will begin at 8:15 a.m.

Post-race activities will begin at 9 a.m., with a concert featuring the band Easy Street at the Heritage Port amphitheater. Awards for the 5K events will be announced at 9:30 a.m., with the 20K awards luncheon starting at 11:30 a.m, also at Heritage Port. Awards in those events will be announced at noon.

Major sponsors for this year’s event include the Ogden Newspapers; Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack; the city of Wheeling; Project Best; Tunnel Ridge Mine; Health Plan; United Bank; Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration; and the Ohio County Commission.

For more information on the Ogden 20K Classic, visit www.ogden20k.com.