WHEELING - Chills competed with the hills in Saturday's 37th Annual Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic, much to the delight of runners who battled extreme heat and humidity last year during the event's 36th running.
With temperatures hovering in the low 30s when the cannon fired for the first time - historic lows for the annual Memorial Day Weekend event - runners took a little longer to warm up, then went out and scorched the notoriously hilly course.
Kenyan Shadrack Kiyai's overall winning time in the half marathon was a little more than two minutes faster than the pace set by Tariku Bokan a year ago and more than 13 minutes ahead of the 2011 winning time set by Wheeling-born Colin Gundling. That was the first year the race moved from a 20K to a half marathon.
''That goes to show that we are now starting to get the attention of some of the other world-class runners,'' Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Race Director R. ''Scat'' Scatterday said.
The first female to break the tape was Etaferahu Temesgen at 1:19.21, better than four minutes ahead of the 2012 winner's time.
''When we launched, it was close to 31 (degrees),'' Scatterday said. ''That was added to the no humidity and the sunshine, which made it a perfect run.
''Once these runners got their heat up in the first half mile to a mile, they were in excellent weather conditions. All they had to deal with was the ongoing challenge that they individually had between themselves and the course. That's the biggest single motivation. You're not interested in beating any time. You're not interested in beating any person. What this boils down to every year is an individual battle between them and the course. They want to come away from that run saying 'I won.'"
Also new to this year's race was a ''safe zone'' where security was tightened in response to the bombing during this year's Boston Marathon.
Scatterday was pleased with the way it was received.
''It was an interesting first go at it,'' he said. ''On the top of the list of comments is to say thank you to everybody for accepting the fact that this was a new thing, it was inconvenient, it was problematic, but it seems as though 99 percent of the people, if not all, were very much supportive of it. They understood the tradeoff.''
Other overall winners were Heath Piper of Eighty Four, Pa., in the Men's 5K Run (17:54.5); Martins Ferry's Christine Lewis in the Women's 5K Run (20:06.9); Donna Graham in the Women's 5K Walk (31:59.0); and Bethesda's Ryan Hudak-Hill in the Men's 5K walk (32:26.0).
Lee Stough of Glassport, Pa., captured the Men's 20K walk (1:59:38.88) and Quaker City, Ohio's Kathy Ervin took first in the Women's 20K Walk (2:23:48.23). The relay team of Matt Mason and Russell Mulley won the Men's relay (1:18:23.3) while Jennifer McFarland and Megan Truelove (1:28:08.3) captured the women's.
In all, 1,096 participants completed the various events on Saturday.