With roots going back 43 years, the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic long ago earned the “classic” in its name. It has hosted a men’s national championship and was proclaimed “The Toughest Half Marathon in America” by Runner’s World for its grueling course up and down the hills of Wheeling, West Virginia.
The Half Marathon has also been the centerpiece of a day of activities during Memorial Day weekend, not just for runners of the 13.1-mile course, but for its 5K run/walk, an Ogden Fun Run that encourages family participation, and its two 100-yard Tiny Tot Trot races for children 4- or 5-years old or under 3 years old.
But this Memorial Day weekend, the Half Marathon will anchor two days of fitness and health, the Ogden Wellness Weekend.
According to an account in Ogden Newspapers’ flagship The Intelligencer of Wheeling, executives from the Half Marathon sponsors, Perry Nardo, the general manager of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, and Jim Pennington, CEO of The Health Plan, a managed health care organization, began discussions last year on expanding the races into a full weekend.
Their first idea was to add a “Tough as Nails Urban Challenge,” which will take place the Sunday before Memorial Day along a 6-mile course that includes scaling flood walls, climbing rocks, racing along a cliff and what the event’s registration site describes as running up “impossible inclines.”
This second day will also include a bicycle tour of the Wheeling Heritage Trail, plus live music, food vendors and a beer garden along the Ohio River.
“We are so excited to promote wellness in the Wheeling area this Memorial Day weekend with this new event,” Nardo said in a statement. “The first-ever Tough as Nails Urban Challenge will be a memorable one for the city of Wheeling and all of its runners, and the post-race parties will serve as a great way to kick off the summer.
“The Ogden Half Marathon, the Tough as Nails and the Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour really tie the weekend together from a fitness standpoint,” Nardo added.
“The Ogden Half Marathon Classic has been a staple of Wheeling’s fitness culture for decades and we’re pleased to help usher in a new era of fun and fitness with the expansion of the Ogden Wellness Weekend,” The Health Plan’s Pennington said.
Proceeds from the 2019 Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic will be donated toward a project to construct a Gold Star Family Memorial Monument, which honors families that have lost a son or daughter in a war.
“The Ogden Half Marathon has always been a true supporter of veterans and has tried, each year, to reflect the core meaning of Memorial Day,” Nardo said. “For years we’ve approached the Memorial Day weekend by focusing on families, and getting involved in this effort is just another way we can express our support to the Upper Ohio Valley.”
Since 2010, the Half Marathon has donated more than $155,000 to local charitable organizations or causes, The Intelligencer reported.