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Weather Cooperates for Annual Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic

Photo by Scott McCloskey Hundreds of runners participate in the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic in downtown Wheeling Saturday morning.

WHEELING — Despite forecasters’ predictions that participants in the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic would cross the finish line under wet and stormy conditions, the weather could not have been better for the 43rd annual event.

Morning temperatures were warm as the Half Marathon walkers stepped off from downtown Wheeling at 7:30 a.m. and the runners followed at 8 a.m., but the mercury only climbed to a high of about 80 degrees. The sky remained blue with only a few passing clouds for the duration of all the day’s events.

Race participants and onlookers remained in good spirits as those completing the 13.1-mile course and the 5K Run/Walk for Health made their way through the Friendly City.

And those who watched the Fun Run for those 12 and under or the Tiny Tot Trot for kids 5 and younger, sponsored by OV Parent magazine, were amused and inspired by the effort those youngsters put forth.

Bryan Morseman was the overall winner of the race, clocking a Half Marathon Run time of 1:15:00.30. The Bath, New York, resident recorded his second victory in as many years, despite having been ill all week.

“It feels good,” Morseman said. “I was running third just before the 10-mile mark, so I wasn’t feeling good. I wasn’t feeling good all week, and it wasn’t until Thursday that I registered. It was a last-minute decision. I wanted to come back and defend my title, and that is always motivation, no matter how you feel.”

In the female division, Wheeling native Kelley Mortakis was the first to cross the tape in 1:29:45.03. She followed in the footsteps of her mother, Sue Mortakis, who is no longer able to compete.

For the shorter 5K event, the winning female runner was Tina Seech of Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, who captured her third 5K Female Run title on Saturday. The top male finisher of the 5K Run was Bridgeport’s Justin Geery, who graduates from Martins Ferry High School today.

Local businesses had the chance to get in on the competition as well, by fielding teams for the Corporate Cup Challenge. The Health Plan, WesBanco, Williams Lea and Main Street Bank faced off. The Corporate Cup will go to the business that fielded the most participants, but those totals had not been tallied late Saturday.

“We’ll probably announce the winner sometime this week,” Race Director Joe Lovell said.

All of the events went smoothly, and the participants remained healthy and uninjured, according to reports from medical personnel who were on hand Saturday. Providers with the Wheeling Hospital Family Medicine Center and Mountain River Physical Therapy were available throughout the race to assist participants. They promoted stretching before and after such strenuous physical activity, as well as remaining hydrated with plain water.

Both athletes and onlookers had the chance to recover from the day’s events at the first-ever Recovery Party at Heritage Port. Many people stuck around to enjoy the live music, beer and refreshments after all had crossed the finish line.

“Today’s race was a tremendous success because of the support of the city of Wheeling, volunteers, sponsors and employees of the newspapers,” Lovell said. “The past two years has seen the total of race entries increase each year, and this year 160 more came out and participated in some aspect of the race, including the Tiny Tot Trot and the 1-mile Fun Run.”

A total of 1,253 participants registered this year, according to Lovell.

Proceeds from the race will be donated toward a tribute to the region’s Gold Star families that sacrificed a loved one for the nation’s freedom. Plans are being made to construct a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at Wheeling’s Veterans Memorial Amphitheater later this year. John Nanny, who is spearheading the monument effort for The Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, said receiving the proceeds from this year’s Ogden Half Marathon — set for Saturday, May 25, in downtown Wheeling — will help make the dream a reality.

“It really means a lot that (race organizers) came forward and offered to help with this,” Nanny has said.

Perry Nardo, general manager of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, said the race is proud to partner with Nanny and the Woody Williams Foundation on a very worthy cause.

“The Ogden Half Marathon has always been a true supporter of veterans and has tried, each year, to reflect the core meaning of Memorial Day, which made supporting an effort such as Mr. Nanny’s an easy decision,” Nardo said.

This will mark the 10th year the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon has donated its proceeds to a local charitable organization or cause. Since 2010, the race has donated more than $155,000.

The Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic this year is just one aspect of the inaugural Ogden Wellness Weekend, sponsored by the Ogden Newspapers and The Health Plan.

As part of the two-day slate of activities aimed at providing opportunities for family fun and fitness, the 13th annual Ohio Valley Trail Partners Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour begins at 8 a.m. today at Heritage Port. Riders can choose from 10-, 30- and 62-mile rides.

Then , at noon, is the first-ever Tough as Nails Urban Challenge. This 6-mile, 20-obstacle event will test participants with challenges ranging from climbing hundreds of stairs to scaling 8-foot walls. The challenges stress teamwork among competitors.

The National Weather Service predicts that showers and thunderstorms could occur in Wheeling today, mainly after 2 p.m. A high temperature of 81 degrees is forecast.

About 30 people are registered to take part in the inaugural Scatterday Challenge, named for the late Ogden race director Robert “Scat” Scatterday, who died earlier this year. To complete the Scatterday Challenge, participants must:

∫ Run or walk the 13.1-mile Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic;

∫ Bike either 10 miles or 30 miles in the Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour; and

∫ Participate in the Tough as Nails Urban Challenge.

For more information on the Wellness Weekend or its events, visit ogdenwellnessweekend.com.

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