Jason Pyles and Emily Chaney say it’s the people who keep them coming back for the annual Mullens 5K run.
Pyles, who can usually be penciled in as the winner when he competes in Wyoming County, took first in Sunday afternoon’s race with a time of 16:09.
It was well off his course record of 15:48, but temperatures in the 80s and a course with no shade accounted for that.
“It was a really hot day,” Pyles stated. “The conditions were hard for everybody, and with anyone who ran today you could attribute a chunk of their (run) time to the heat.”
While the cash award the race offers is nice, Pyles says he particularly enjoys seeing many of the same people in the Mullens run each year.
“It’s nice to come here and see the same faces,” he remarked. “It feels like a little family.”
Pyles has a busy schedule. He plans to run 25-30 events this year.
“Running and my sponsors have taken me to the west coast, Texas and a lot of place I would not have gotten to see otherwise,” he remarked.
Jeremy Bartley was second. Wyoming East student Joseph Cornett took third, and Billy Fox of Oceana was fourth.
Chaney can also usually be counted on to finish first when she runs in Mullens. Her winning time on Sunday was 18:02.
“I like the county,” Chaney said. “There are always a lot of nice people. You have good people and a good time.
“It was pretty miserable (in the heat) today,” Chaney said. “It’s really the first hot weather I’ve run in this year because I usually run in the morning.
“But you know (this weather) is coming and you just have to get used to it,” she added.
Chaney also has a full schedule with runs planned around the state, including Wyoming County. She will also run in the Chicago Marathon later this year.
Allison Cox took second, and Maria Busitenei finished third. Michelle Morgan was fourth.
The top four winners in the men’s and women’s divisions get cash prizes.
“The turnout was good,” said Dale Stewart, one of the organizers of the event. “We had several runners from outside the area, including people from Charleston and Huntington.
“We also had students from Wyoming East and Westside, and that’s good because we’re trying to grow a running culture in the area,” he added.
Categories for students in grades 1-8 and 9-12 were added for the first time.
The Wyoming County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Coal Heritage Highway Authority, Riverside Energy and Tom Paynter Trucking served as sponsors.
David Lord, Steve Clark and Brittany Bauer volunteered to help run the event.
The Oceana 5K run has been tentatively set for June 30 at 9 a.m.