WILLIAMSON — Runners competing in the 2022 Hatfield McCoy Marathon on Saturday were treated to overall good conditions as the 23rd edition of the two-state race was completed.
The longest running race in West Virginia and Kentucky was hosted by the Tug Valley Road Runners Club and saw another strong turnout as around 500 runners signed up for the four different races.
For the second straight year, a West Virginia native was the overall winner of marathon as Nick Whited from Bluefield finished first with a time of 3:05:30.
Whited, who is originally from Richlands, Virginia, said that the Hatfield McCoy Marathon was the first race he competed in back in 2003.
“This was actually my first marathon 19 years ago back in 2003, and I dropped out at 22 miles,” Whited said. “I’ve always told my wife that I’ve got to come back and redeem myself here, but the schedules just never worked out. Both of our parents were coal miners, I mean we’re Appalachia. So I had to come back here. … I’m just happy to get to come back and blessed to win it.”
The course, which runs through Pike County in Kentucky and Mingo County in West Virginia, is lauded by runners as one of the most challenging marathons in the country with several steep inclines.
Whited said he did his homework beforehand and was prepared to come out and tackle the course the second time around.
“I went out really conservative, and there was a bunch of guys close to me,” Whited said. “My goal was to get to Matewan as comfortable as I could and just get off of River Road and off the swinging bridge. Once I did that and got back on the highway, I knew it was time to work.”
Whited said he has overcome several medical conditions over the past four years to get to this point.
“I’ve been training really really hard,” Whited said. “I had two Achilles surgeries and had a rare sinus tumor and has to have five surgeries at WVU. The last four years I’ve just been down. I’ll be 44 on June 20, so age is catching up with me.”
Finishing first overall in the female division was Jess Peterson of Somerville, Massachusetts. Peterson said it was her first attempt at the race, and she was blown away by the hospitality of the race organizers, volunteers and fellow runners.
“The hospitality was amazing,” Peterson said. “Everybody was so friendly and enthusiastic. It was great; I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Peterson said she also had done her homework to prepare for the challenge the course would present and was pleased with her time of 3:34:02.
“I was very afraid of the hill into mile seven, but it was not as bad as I anticipated from the elevation chart,” Peterson said. “And then the hill at mile 23 surprised me. But I got through it.”
Finishing first place overall in the Blackberry Mountain Half Marathon was Tyelin May of Belfry, who ran from Food City to Matewan in a time of 1:27:33.
Charleston Native Nick Bias claimed the River Road Half Marathon with a time of 1:23:39. Winning the 5K was Noah Gearheart of Prestonsburg, Kentucky, with a time of 19:17.
HD Media reporter Jarrid McCormick covers sports in Mingo County.