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Brenden Sands Wins Ogden Half Marathon Men’s Run

Photo by Seth Staskey Photo/SETH STASKEY WHEELING RESIDENT and West Liberty University track and cross country runner Brenden Sands celebrates as he reaches the finish line and breaks the tape as the champion of the 2022 Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic held Saturday morning in downtown Wheeling.

WHEELING — The 44th running of the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic certainly had a heavy local flavor Saturday morning.

Fifteen of the top 20 finishers, including the entire top 10, reside in the Ohio Valley on one side of the river or the other.

Current West Liberty Hilltopper runner Brenden Sands broke the finishing tape first to claim the men’s crown, while Morgantown resident Aubrey Lemine edged out her training partner, Heather Cleary, by hundredths of a second to win the female race.

Sands, who just wrapped up his season with the Hilltoppers’ track team a few weeks ago, rode the conditioning wave of a season in which he specialized in the 5K and 10K to a title in his first half marathon race of his career.

“I grew up in Wheeling, so I looked at it as a home course-type race and actually a lot of people were surprised that I had never ran it, so I decided to give it a shot,” Sands said just moments after crossing the line in a solid time of 1 hour, 15 minutes and 24 seconds.

Though Sands, who is a Wheeling Park graduate, is obviously native to Wheeling and fully grasps the hills and terrain, it really took an actual race — especially one fresh off of running on a track — to get an actual feel.

“Obviously, during track you’re doing more speed work, so I hadn’t been getting a lot of hill work,” Sands admitted. “They weren’t a shock to me, but running a quick pace is something that really must be considered when you’re coming to run this event.”

Sands finished 62 seconds ahead of Wheeling Park product and fellow Hilltopper runner Jared Ullom, who checked in with a 1:16:26.

“I actually kind of opened up the lead in the opening 5K (3.1 miles),” Sands admitted. “I thought people were going to go out with me and one person did for the first mile or so, but I decided to keep the pace and thought, ‘I’m just going to see where I end up.'”

Obviously, the strategy paid dividends.

“After that opening stretch, I kind of settled into a pace that was comfortable for me,” Sands said. “This course is so tough, though. I honestly credit and congratulate everyone who runs this.”

As for his time, Sands was “content.”

Prior to the Ogden Half Marathon, Sands’ last competition came at Lee University where and some fellow Hilltoppers took part in a ‘last-chance meet’ to try to gain a time that would qualify them for Division II NCAA Nationals.

Sands ran a personal-best time of 15:08 in the 5K.

“Mentally, I had kind of checked out of the racing game and was really just hobby jogging around,” Sands admitted. “I decided to enter this to have some fun.”

Don’t look for Sands’ name to pop up in any additional race results anytime soon. He’s entering a two-week break from training before he amps up again to begin preparations for his senior cross country season.

Michael Guinn II of Follansbee was the third-place finisher. He toured the city in 1:16:52, while Matt Riffle, who ran the Boston Marathon last month, was fourth in 1:17:07. James Tarr of Wheeling was fifth in 1:19:22.

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