Bellaire’s Vavrek claims women’s half marathon race

WHEELING — Aimee Vavrek finished sixth overall in last year’s Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic. All she wanted to do Saturday was improve upon that finish.

The Bellaire resident certainly did that as she was the first female to break the tape during the 42nd annual event Saturday morning in hot conditions.

“I was just hoping to get first or second,” she admitted after taking a cooling off period. “I know the Ohio Valley is hotter in the summer. This is my kind of weather, but we haven’t had 80s and 90s at 8 o’clock in the morning for a while, so it was hot out there.”

Vavrek said her time of 1:36.11 was nearly 10 seconds faster than last year.

“Last year it was cooler and a little rainy. It was better conditions to run in.”

According to the 31-year-old, she led most of the race.

“I struggled going up the 29th Street hill, but a good friend of mine, Justin Zelek, helped me out. He turned around backwards and ran that way for a little bit telling me that I could do it and not to quit,” she explained. “He definitely got me through it as well as my parents and my 17-month-old son Braxton who were at the top of the hill.”

She said her son gave her encouragement, as well.

“He was waving and yelling ‘go mommy!”

Vavrek was a four-time state qualifier at Bellaire High School and continued her running career collegiately at Wheeling Jesuit and then West Virginia Wesleyan.

She plans to run the New York Marathon in November and Boston Marathon next April.

Vavrek’s time was good enough for 15th overall. She was followed across the finish line by four other female runners: Morgantown’s Kyria Yanoviak (1:37.17); Wheeling’s Kelly Mortakis (1:38.14); Tammy Slusser (1:39.14) of Monroeville, Pa.; and Wheeling’s Beighly Ayers (1:39.45).

COMMENTS