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Organizers Prepare for Ogden Half Marathon, Tough as Nails

File Photo - Participants scale the Walls of Fort Henry near the finish line of the 2019 Tough as Nails Urban Challenge. After both this year’s Tough as Nails and the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic on Memorial Day weekend, post-race parties will provide music, food and drink to keep the fun rolling.

WHEELING — For Jim Gibbons, building on the success of the inaugural Tough as Nails Urban Challenge is not so much a matter of making big changes, but instead refining the event’s 20 obstacles to enhance the overall user experience.

Gibbons, the Tough as Nails’ organizer, said there will be a few new twists to the course this year, and possibly a new obstacle or two.

But other than that, he said feedback from last year’s event, which saw more than 700 entrants climb, crawl and jump through obstacles over 6 miles, let him know the Tough as Nails and the overall Ogden Wellness Weekend had a great start.

“We had such a solid response last year, and the things we’re addressing this year will only enhance the course for our competitors,” Gibbons said. “I couldn’t be more excited as we head into year two. We’re anticipating a really big jump in numbers and excitement this year.”

The Tough as Nails is part of the Ogden Wellness Weekend, set this year for May 23-24.

The weekend marks two days of fitness, family and fun to celebrate the start of summer in Wheeling.

And while it’s only early January, excitement already is building for the 2020 Wellness Weekend, as participants from the tri-state region are forming teams and registering for the events.

Registration can be done for all events at ogdenwellnessweekend.com. The weekend’s primary sponsors are the Ogden Newspapers and The Health Plan of West Virginia.

The showcase events this year are the 44th running of the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic and the Tough as Nails Urban Challenge.

Along with the main events — one a 13.1 mile half-marathon on one of the nation’s toughest courses, the other a 6-mile challenge through several of Wheeling’s neighborhoods – there also are family-friendly undertakings such as the 5K Run and Walk for Health and the OV Parent Tiny Tot Trot. The Ohio Valley Trail Partners Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour also provides an option for those who enjoy their exercise on wheels.

Last year, between all the events, more than 2,000 competitors took part in the Wellness Weekend.

“We couldn’t have been happier with the 2019 Wellness Weekend, and expect this year’s events to be even better,” said Perry Nardo, general manager of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register. “The Ogden Half Marathon, for years, has served as Wheeling’s premier athletic challenge, and adding the Tough as Nails Urban Challenge last year to round out the Memorial Day weekend really took it to another level.

“Last year, we received such strong support from all of our sponsors especially The Health Plan, the city of Wheeling and other area businesses and volunteers, and that really helped make it such a great weekend. That open-minded, get-it-done approach really put the spotlight on the commitment the leaders of our community have to new ideas and growth.”

What’s new in 2020

Along with a few minor changes to the Tough as Nails’ course, there is a new start time for the 5K Run (8:10 a.m. May 23) and also the addition of an awards ceremony for both the 5K and also the half marathon. The 5K awards will be presented at 11 a.m. May 23, with the Half Marathon at 12:30 p.m.

Back again this year is the recovery party, which allows competitors to celebrate with their friends on the waterfront.

The Saturday recovery party will begin at 7:30 a.m. and run until 2 p.m., while Sunday’s party runs from 1-6 p.m. This year’s party will feature a beer garden (Bloody Marys and mimosas are new options this year), a DJ and several bands. Also, this year an ATM will be on-site.

Another change for this year is the ability for participants to secure their items – keys, a wallet, etc. – prior to taking part in their event.

What returns in 2020

For those brave souls there is the Scatterday Challenge, named in honor of late Ogden Race director R. “Scat” Scatterday. This challenge consists of running or walking the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic; biking the 10- or 30-mile legs of the Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour; and then completing the Tough as Nails Urban Challenge.

A few dozen competitors completed the challenge in 2019, and Gibbons expects to see that climb this year.

For more information on the Tough as Nails, the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic or the Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour, visit ogdenwellnessweekend.com.

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