When the Vienna River Road Race is conducted at 8 a.m. Saturday, it will reach a milestone.
It will mark the 15th time the race has been conducted.
Long-time director Lou Molinaro thought about making some changes in honor of the anniversary, but elected instead to continue the race's traditional format. After all, it is that format that keeps the participating runners and walkers coming back year after year.
All the races will begin and end at the Jackson Middle School football stadium. Runners will depart at 8 a.m. and will compete over a 5-mile course that takes them down 34th Street to Grand Central Avenue. They stay on Grand Central until they reach 55th Street, then continue onto River Road for 22 blocks to 33rd Street. They take 33rd back to Grand Central, turning onto 34th Street for the home stretch run back into the stadium, where they are greeted not only by race officials, but those who come out to cheer on the competitors.
Walkers will leave at 8:05 a.m. and will compete over a 5K (3.1 miles) course. Like the runners, the walkers head down 34th Street to Grand Central Avenue, but turn off of it at 39th Street. They follow River Road to 34th Street and take 34th all the way back to the stadium.
While the road races are for adults, the children also are a major part of race day as boys and girls ages 3 through 11 will participate in the River City Kids Races, which begin and end at the football stadium. The kids races will start as soon as the adult races have concluded at approximately 9 a.m.
Those 3-and-under will cover 50 meters; 4 and 5-year-olds will go 100 meters; those ages 6 and 7 will race 200 meters. Both the 8-9 and 10-11 groups will run 400 meters. All participants will receive a ribbon.
Molinaro is excited that Vienna is the first stop in the River City Kids Series.
Molinaro has seen the growth in the local running and walking community. He notes that each of the races in the Winter Series drew approximately 200 participants. While runners used to dominate, competitive walkers are becoming more commonplace. Molinaro estimates race participants are 50 percent runners and 50 percent walkers.
Molinaro loves to see youngsters get an early start exercising. A track and field official, he has seen many who started off at a young age, continue running and/or walking through adulthood.
Entry fee is $15, $10 for members of the River City Runners and Walkers Club. All participants will receive a T-shirt. Checks should be made payable to the River City Runners and Walkers Club, P.O. Box 4496, Parkersburg 26104.
For more information, contact Molinaro at 304-295-5088.