BRUCETON MILLS — To welcome the spring, Coopers Rock State Park showcased its terrain and natural beauty in a unique way.
On April 28, the Coopers Rock Foundation hosted its third annual half-marathon and 50K races, in addition to having a small “finish line fair” alongside the two races.
“The proceeds of the race will benefit the Coopers Rock Foundation,” said Dave Hopkinson, the race director and Coopers Rock Foundation president. “So whatever money we make from it goes right back into the forest, so that it benefits the people who enjoy coming out here and doing things like running at Coopers Rock.”
Both races began at 7 a.m. and were run simultaneously; 100 people participated in both races, 35 in the 50K and 65 in the half-marathon.
Derek Clark was the first-place male finisher in the 50K, with a time of 4 hours, 35 minutes, while Sara Dallman had a time of 5:38 as the first-place female finisher.
In the half-marathon, the first-place male finisher was Takashi Murashita, with a time of 1:41, and Christine Wallace was the fastest female finisher, at 1:50.
Hopkinson estimates that most people complete the half-marathon in two-three hours and the 50K in six-seven hours.
“The 50 kilometer race covers almost every trail on the south side of Coopers Rock,” Hopkinson said. “They go to Raven Rock overlook, they go down to Cheat Lake, so they pretty much hit all the highlights. The half marathon is a shortened version” of the 50K.
Some participants traveled a long way for the races.
Dotty Carman came all the way from Cincinnati with two of her friends.
Carman ran in the half-marathon along with one of her friends, while her other friend competed in the 50K.
She said she runs in only a couple of races a year, and had never been to Coopers Rock before.
After finding out about the race online, Carman said, she and her friends jumped at the opportunity to run on such beautiful, scenic terrain.
Hopkinson came up with the idea for creating the race as a way to fill a void.
He said West Virginia has the Sasquatch 50K at Kanawha State Forest in the winter, the Highlands Sky 40-mile at Dolly Sods in the summer and the West Virginia Trilogy at Seneca Rocks in the fall, but nothing in the spring.
“For me, the inspiration was that I thought we should have a long, trail-running race at Coopers Rock, something to show off the beauty of Coopers Rock,” Hopkinson said. “Also, in the world of ‘ultra-marathoning,’ which is basically any race that’s longer than a marathon, there are actually a number of ultra-marathons in West Virginia. But at least that I know of, there aren’t any 50 kilometer ultra-marathons in the spring time.
“So there’s these great races in the other seasons, but there was kind of a hole there in the spring, so I thought, well, we should have a spring ultra-marathon right here at Coopers Rock.”