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Nebraska man making his way through ‘50 States Half Marathon Challenge’

Photo by Carri Graham Richard Wiedenbeck of Nebraska readies to compete in the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Run Saturday morning. The West Virginia race marks Wiedenbeck’s 40th state in his competing in the “50 States Half Marathon Challenge.”

WHEELING – A Nebraska man competed in the 44th annual Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Run Saturday, with the West Virginia race allowing him to check off the state as he makes his way through the “50 States Half Marathon Challenge.”

Richard Wiedenbeck, a first-time competitor in the local half-marathon, said the race marked his 40th state in the challenge.

“I’m doing the half-marathon in all 50 states. … I came all this way to run this run. I usually like to pick the smaller town runs. There are neater places, they’re not big cities with 30,000 people. You’re able to connect more with the local flavor of the state,” he said.

Wiedenbeck said his daughter inspired him to begin the challenge, which started 4½ years ago. Although he only completed three races in the first year of the challenge, he said he was able to check off dozens of states amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, he has checked off Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Washington from his list; and now, West Virginia.

“I’ll be able to check off Alaska next month,” he added.

Wiedenbeck said his goal for Saturday’s half marathon was to simply make it “up that hill” around mile marker 3, and to “finish without stopping.”

“You know, stay under 2 hours and 10 minutes. This one looks like it has a big hill, so I’m going to try to stay under 2:20. Nothing too aggressive,” he said, adding that competing has gotten slightly harder since he turned 60 earlier this year.

Typically, his wife, Kim, competes alongside him; however, she was unable to make it to the Wheeling race this time.

“We usually make a weekend of it and we’ll tour the area. We usually try to find neat runs and have a little weekend away together. She’ll run the 5K and I do the half marathon,” he said.

Wiedenbeck said he looked forward to finishing the race and seeing what all the area had to offer.

Another out-of-town runner, Ben Fusco from Baltimore, participated in the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic for the 20th time Saturday. Fusco, who grew up in Wellsburg, returns each year to compete in the race. Unfortunately, this would be his last year due to a bad knee. He said he was excited for the return of the race and looking forward to the challenge.

“When you miss a year or two, you get out of the routine. The first time jitters are back,” he said.

“It’s great for the city, it’s great for the valley. It’s a great chance to come home and see family and friends. We’ll be here all weekend.”

Fusco made the trip along with his wife, Kim, and their three children, 6-year-old Carolyn, 5-year-old Allison and 1-year-old Natalie. Kim and the children ran together in the Ogden Fun Run, presented by Ziegenfelder, while Fusco ran the half marathon.

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