Veteran, Newcomer Take 5K Walk Crowns

Photo by Joe Lovell Terry Whitecotton crosses the finish line as the first 5K walker at the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic.

WHEELING — A hardened veteran and a precocious newcomer claimed the top spots in the Ogden Newspapers 5K Walk for Health on Saturday morning.

Under sunny skies, Wheeling residents Terry Whitecotton and Katerina Spanos raced to crowns in their respective divisions under increasingly muggy Memorial Day weekend conditions.

Whitecotton is a familiar face, having competed in The Friendly City staple for most of the event’s 42 years. He completed the challenging downtown course first for the second straight year.

“It went pretty good,” he said, his well-recognized long hair tucked underneath a hat. “I got a pretty good start. It felt pretty good out there.”

While Whitecotton, 64, is a well-known commodity around local road racing circles, Spanos isn’t. In fact, Saturday’s race was her first 5K.

“My dad (George) was running in it and he asked me if I wanted to be in it,” Spanos, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at St. Vincent, said.

Spanos said she felt good about her performance, especially considering the fact she really didn’t put much preparation in.

“I didn’t really have any expectations,” she said.

Whitecotton always has high expectations. A former runner in the 20K event, he switched over to walking some years ago.

“When walking came around in the late 1990s I decided to go ahead and try that division,” I didn’t realize it was a whole different sport and a whole different set of muscles. You don’t just go out and start race walking. You really have to work at it.”

The key, he said, is undertaking the right amount of preparation.

“Eat right the night before,” he said, “and do speed work and hill work.”

Come race day, Whitecotton said he mostly competes with himself, although if there’s a familiar face along the race course, he’ll target them, too.

“I’m like a race car driver,” he said. “It’s something I love doing and I can’t wait to do. The night before, it’s all I think about.”