Friendship Leads to Championship
5:20 pm Saturday, May 27, 2017
By CODY TOMER
WHEELING —The Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic has been said to be one of the most gruelling courses in the United States, but for Kim Norman, 42, and Carie Gump, 42, of Wheeling, the event is a bond that they have shared for years.
On Saturday, Norman was the first female to cross the finish line in the Half Marathon Walk and Gump was the first person to greet the first-time winner.
“This race has made us even better friends through the years,” Gump said. “I love her and I am so happy for her.”
Norman recorded a time of 2:38:33 and created a memory that the two friends will share forever.
“Carie got me started on this race about 10 years ago,” Norman said. “This is the best I have ever felt doing the walk at this race. I have gotten first in my age group before but never first overall in the female walk. This feels excellent.”
The cool temperatures made one of the most difficult courses in America more manageable but Norman was up for any challenge on this day, due to a strong and consistent workout.
“I think since it wasn’t so hot, it made it easier,” Norman said. “I haven’t really been training any more than I usually do. I always walk 5-7 miles a day.”
Even with temperatures down, the course still offers many obstacles but Norman came into the action with a gameplan and executed it to perfection.
“I try to make sure I stop at every water stop,” Norman said. “They are located about every mile on the course.
“The 29th Street Hill is usually the worst but I just try not to think about it when I walk.”
Susie Fullerton, 59, of Wheeling was just behind Norman as she finished runner-up with a mark of 2:39:52, while Deborah Mitchell, 51, of Bellaire and Kim Evans, 47, of Beallsville both crossed the finish line at 2:48:48 to earn a tie for third. St. Clairsville’s Amy Perry, 38, completed the course in 2:49:00, just one second ahead of Julie Wakulchik, 41, also of St. C.
A pair of Wheeling natives finished seventh and eighth as Shawn Turak, 48, and Debra Wensyel, 61, turned in times of 2:50:23 and 2:53:12, respectively.
Rae Birkhimer, 51, and Courtney Birkhimer, 25, of Newark rounded out the top-10 with marks of 2:53:13.
Gump did her part in the running competition as she supplied a time of 2:05:17 in the Half Marathon Run and was the 35th female to cross the line and fifth in her age group. Next year the Ogden Half Marathon tradition will continue for the two friends and Norman says that she will be back to defend her title.