By Carra Higgins
Prior to the starting shot of the 15th Annual Beckley Half Marathon and 5K run/walk Saturday morning, James Scarborgh, of Fort Lee, Va., said his 15-year-old son, Tyler Spence, would “probably win” the 5K run, and he was correct. With a time of 19:00, Tyler was the first runner across the line.
“It was fun,” Tyler Spence said between words of congratulations from proud family members.
About an hour later the first racers in the Half Marathon wrapped up their 13.1-mile trek around Beckley. It was Alex Cottle, originally from Ukraine who currently lives in Beckley, who finished first with a time of 1:22:24.
After the run, Cottle said he simply enjoys challenging himself and staying in shape and decided to try the Half Marathon because he “always wanted to.” Cottle added that he ran a 10K race recently.
“I impressed myself,” Cottle said. “I wanted to see what I could do.”
Just behind Cottle was Hayden Thomas, a member of the U.S. Air Force, who decided to enter the Half Marathon at approximately 1 a.m. Saturday — about 7 hours before the race stepped off.
“I just wanted to have fun with no pressure, but I thought I might have a chance since I was pretty sure none of the past winners were participating,” Thomas said.
Before the 228 total runners began their respective races, Mike Anderson, of Beckley, and Conley White, of Daniels, warmed up. Saturday’s events served as White’s first 5K and Anderson’s first half marathon.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” White said. “I’m amazed by runners. I’m looking forward to a good time and fellowship.”
Anderson decided to sign up for the Half Marathon with a co-worker at the Veteran’s Affairs Office. Anderson dedicated his first half marathon to veterans of the armed services.
“I’m hoping to still have my legs underneath me,” Anderson about the end of the race before it began.
Angela Bolen, of Beaver, was dressed in pink to raise awareness for breast cancer during her 5K run. Last year she competed in the event as her first 5K. Bolen said running a 5K last year was her way of challenging herself before her 40th birthday.
Participants in the race came from 13 states and as far away as Oakland, Calif.
“It’s exciting to see people come to Beckley for the weekend,” said Ellen Taylor, Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “Hopefully they’ll come back and spend a week.”
Taylor also extended her appreciation to the numerous sponsors of the Half Marathon.
Kip Buchanan, BRCCC sales director, said, “It’s a great turnout to kick off the day.”
The Half Marathon route changes pleased Chris Hall, BRCCC chairman of the board and city council member. Hall said the altered route incorporated fewer street crossings and more controlled areas, such as the soccer fields.
Also on hand before the race was Rocket Boy Homer Hickam, who wished the runners luck before he headed to the Rocket Boys Festival. Although Hickam said his other obligation prevented him from running the race, he jokingly assured runners he’d get to know those in the back of the pack.
Overall male winners in the Half Marathon were Cottle, 1:22:24; Thomas, 1:22:55; Aaron Walker, 1:25:10; Paul Shifflett, 1:25:10; and Matt Searls, 1:27:01. Overall female winners in the Half Marathon were Courtney Chapman, 1:25:55; Gretchen McDonough, 1:30:45; Amanda Fizer, 1:34:08; Amanda Lollar, 1:39:04; and Susan Hall, 1:46:44.
Overall male winners in the 5K were Spence, 19:00; Nathan Russel, 20:29; Ryan Walker, 20:52; Ben Wright, 20:59; and Joseph Skinner, 21:11. Overall female winners in the 5K were Emily Fedder, 20:29; Melissa Clary, 25:22; Kim Ratliff, 25:39; Rebekah Tuck, 25:53; and Darlene McNeel, 26:00.
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