When Jay Parks heard that his hometown, Coshocton, Ohio, was hosting its first ever half marathon in 2022, he knew he had to run it, even though he was scheduled to compete in a full marathon the following week. Parks, 54, is an avid runner, with more than 20 years’ experience and countless races, including a dozen marathons and two full Ironman Triathlons. “I actually did not want to run this far a week before my marathon,” said Parks, but he registered anyway to support the new fundraiser for the local parks.
Course developer Sherry Kirkpatrick always thought it would be great to have a half marathon in her hometown. “Like me, many local runners travel out of town to run half marathons, so as soon as I was asked to be on the Friends of the Parks volunteer board, I knew I wanted to create one. Planning started a full year in advance, as Kirkpatrick ran her favorite routes through Coshocton. “I wanted to showcase our beautiful park, the Downtown Historic District, and Roscoe Village,” a restored 1800’s era Ohio and Erie Canal Town. Both areas are filled with historic buildings, shops and restaurants. Kirkpatrick spent several weeks testing the route to be sure competitors would enjoy a great route that had some challenging spots, “but nothing over the top,” she said. Kirkpatrick didn’t stop with just a half marathon. “I truly felt that we could have a 5K and 10K race along with the half marathon right here in Coshocton.”
It was important to Kirkpatrick to create an enjoyable route for all competitors. “The first 5.5 miles of the course keeps 10K and Half Marathon runners together, then the half marathoners split off into Coshocton’s Downtown Historic District.” The 5K route runs on flat, paved trails within Coshocton Lake Park, a familiar path for 5K competitor Kaylee Kreis of Coshocton, who ran in several area races last year. Kreis placed first in her age group and loved the tee shirt she received for this race. “I’m a sucker for a good T,” she said with a laugh. “Seeing the community come together to raise money for our park was something I definitely wanted to be part of.” Kreis encourages everyone to participate, even if they are beginners. “At every race I’ve run, even if I don’t know anyone, there are people there cheering me on; telling me not to quit.”
Allie Reed typically runs half marathons, but in this race did the 10K, which was a first for her. “It’s the perfect distance for runners looking for a little more than a 5k, but are uncertain about committing to the half marathon,” she said. She and her husband, Evan, ran the race with family friend Kenzie Bice. They especially enjoyed the run through Lake Park with all the other racers. “It was very well organized,” she said.
Because Parks was running the race as a warm-up for his upcoming marathon, he went out at a moderate pace, with no intentions of pushing to get first place. “At around the 11.5-mile mark, the leader began to slow, so I just held my pace and cruised to a first-place overall finish,” he said. “It was just one of those days where everything fell together. An overall win was something I was not expecting.” As for that marathon, Parks said he placed 11th overall and qualified for this year’s Boston Marathon, which falls a week after the Friends of the Parks race. He plans to run it again this year as a “warm-up” for his run in Boston.
Kirkpatrick wants everyone to know that this is a family-friendly race. “We welcome parents with baby-joggers, kids, leashed pets; run or walk, we just want you to have fun!” Competitive runners will be placed at the front of the pack so they can get a great start.
Kirkpatrick is thrilled with the results of the 2022 race. She recalls thinking that she would have been pleased with 10 entries for the Half Marathon, but instead registered 49. Altogether, 196 runners registered in the three races, ranging in age from 10 to 76. “I was simply blown away with the final results and number of participants,” she said. “With the generosity of our sponsors and race registrations, Friends of the Parks was able to donate $10,826 to the Coshocton Park District.”
This year the race, which is officially named Friends of the Parks Half Marathon 10k & 5K, Powered by Coshocton Regional Medical Center, will be held on Saturday, April 8, 2023. Runners may register now at www.Dkraces.com.
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