WHEELING —Amber Hanes, a 29-year-old resident of Belpre, Ohio, says she only picked up the running bug about 9 months ago. The way this thing is shaping up in the early stages, she may just make a career out of it.
Hanes crossed the tape Saturday morning in 20:53:66, or roughly18 seconds ahead of Wheeling’s Laura Tarovisky to win the women’s portion of the Ogden 5K Run/Walk for Health.
‘‘I’m kind of trying to get the feel for things,’’ Hanes said. ‘‘I’ve had a little success at home and I’m trying to figure out, learn about running, and I wanted to come up here and run against some different people and see how I could do elsewhere.
‘‘I looked at some times on the Internet from last year’s race and thought I could be competitive.’’
Sounds a lot like the knowledge attained by David McCollam, 31, of Bridgeport, W.Va. His father-in-law, Paul Hatfield, had previously run the course and told him it would be fast. Other than that, all McCollam knew was what he could find on the Internet.
The unfamiliarity didn’t seem to matter, though. At least not if you’re going by his winning time of 15:42:18, which bested runner-up Dustin Meeker (16:28:50) of Baltimore, Md.
‘‘I thought I had a shot based on last year’s time,’’ McCollam said. ‘‘I wasn’t sure if the guy who won the mile (Friday) night, I figured if he was going to run I probably wouldn’t have had much of a shot.’’
McCollam also said that he Hatfield will be competing in the Deckers Creek Half Marathon next week in Morgantown, so he used this as a ‘‘prep race — a speed workout-type thing.’’
Hanes, a former basketball coach at Belpre High who has temporarily given that up in pursuit of her racing, says she actually got a little lucky in the fact she was trapped in the pack early in the race.
‘‘Some of my friends that I’ve met in my running club have been talking to me about hanging back a little bit and then increasing my speed. I’ve tried to do that, but a lot of times I jump out too fast and kind of lose steam in the end,’’ said Hanes, who recently finished fifth in the 2nd annual Chick-fil-A 10K Road Race in Parkersburg. ‘‘I’ve made the mistake a few times, and lost a few times because I jumped out too early.
‘‘(Saturday) I couldn’t get through for a while, then kind of broke out and was able to build a little steam. I’d say for the first 2 1/2 miles I probably increased, then in the last mile, if I maintained I think that would have been good, but I was able to pick it up a little more.’’
Finishing third-fifth in the women’s competition were all local athletes: Wheeling’s Elena Romanek, 15, was third, followed by Wheeling’s Madison Morris, 16, and St. Clairsville’s Melanie Hannan, 16.
On the male side, Shadyside’s Ian Gulley, 18, was third, and the St. Clairsville duo of Matt Riffle, 17, who was the defending champion, and Ramon Nieves, 16, rounded out the top 5.
Tony Purpura, 60, of Wheeling was the overall walking winner with a time of 29:50:14, and Mouse Yoker, 52, of St. Clairsville was second. Women — Donna Graham, 60, of Lowell, Ohio, Diana Tucker, 37 of Wheeling, and Heidi Ferns, 40, of St. Clairsville rounded out the top 5.