Wheeling helps Wellness Weekend keep rolling

T-L Photo/JENNIFER COMPSTON-STROUGH Participants in the Ogden Newspapers Tough as Nails Urban Challenge run between obstacles in 2023.

WHEELING — The entire city of Wheeling is the landscape for the Ogden Newspapers Wellness Weekend presented by WVU Medicine. From the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic, which takes walkers and runners through several city neighborhoods, to the Tough As Nails Urban Challenge presented by The Health Plan, which uses several Friendly City landmarks as obstacles for participants to conquer, the city is in the DNA of the weekend.

And city departments come out in full force for the weekend to make sure participants, their families and other spectators enjoy two days full of fun and fitness.

For some city departments, the weekend is an all-hands-on-deck endeavor, especially the Wheeling police and fire departments. Hundreds participate in the weekend’s events and thousands come into the city to watch. Keeping everyone safe is paramount.

Wheeling Police Maj. Josh Sanders said that the department uses 43 people to keep an eye on things over the two days. That includes uniformed police officers, members of the WPD’s Neighborhood Assistant Volunteer group and even members of the latest Citizen’s Police Academy class that wanted to lend a hand.

Those volunteers play several roles, Sanders said, from serving breakfast to the officers to helping direct traffic.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we have a great group of civilian volunteers,” he said.

The WPD also will employ its Unmanned Aerial Response Team, which will send a drone overhead to get a different perspective on the crowd to make sure everyone is safe. The department, Sanders said, is ready to go the distance in ensuring everyone enjoys the weekend.

“I think that speaks to the service that Wheeling PD provides for the community. We understand as hard as it is sometimes, this event is important for the city and the people who live here and the community that’s associated with this.”

Wheeling Fire Chief James Blazier said all of his on-duty personnel, and some off-duty members, will be out along the race routes keeping an eye on participants. Some crew members will be on bicycles, others on ATVs, Blazier said.

“Our goal is, if something happens, to get someone to them as quick as possible,” he said. “Sometimes it’s as simple as a twisted ankle or pulled muscle or something like that. And it may be as simple as getting on our ATV and us giving them a lift back to the start/finish line if they’re unable to finish.”

Wheeling Fire personnel will be there for more serious issues as well. Blazier said the temperature has been unseasonably warm the last couple of weeks, so participants need to be careful not to overheat and possibly suffer from dehydration or heatstroke.

Blazier said his department wants to do its part in welcoming people to Wheeling and giving them the type of experience that spurs them to return.

“Whether it’s someone from Wheeling, someone that’s visiting here for the first time because there’s the half marathon or maybe people that have moved away that have come back for the holiday weekend and decide to take part in the Wellness Weekend, we want everybody to have an enjoyable experience, be glad they came to Wheeling and tell everybody how great it was here.”

Police and fire aren’t the only departments hard at work during the Ogden Newspapers Wellness Weekend presented by WVU Medicine. The city operations department plays a big part both before and during the event, Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron said. Crews set up water sources on parts of the course and keep the course clean and free of debris, along with other tasks. The Wheeling Parks and Recreation Department also lends its manpower to the weekend.

Herron said the weekend, because of where it falls on the summer events calendar in Wheeling, also provides city departments with crucial information on how best to man large-scale events in the city. Information learned this weekend will help the city with other major events later in the summer.

“It’s really a high-quality, family-oriented weekend that we’re very pleased to assist with,” Herron said, “and we’re very thankful that Ogden Newspapers supports and sponsors this event.”

Perry Nardo, general manager of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, said the support the City of Wheeling offers the Ogden Newspapers Wellness Weekend presented by WVU Medicine can’t be quantified.

“The cooperation and support the City of Wheeling provides is essential to the weekend’s success,” Nardo said. “The hard work, skill and expertise of these city employees are key ingredients to what makes the Ogden Wellness Weekend presented by WVU Medicine the marquee event it has become. They feel as we do that Wheeling is a gem that needs to be on display for everyone to see.”


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