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Saturday, May 13, 2000 -- Cross Lanes, WV
Poca River 15K
Story and photos by Jennifer Cavender

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results by Class] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2]

Having fun at the Poca Run
Just having moved back to West Virginia, I'm reminded of all the advice I've ever received. You can't leave WV. While you may leave for a while, true West Virginians always return. I thought that wouldn't prove true for me, but here I am back in Almost Heaven territory and loving it. The Poca River 15K embodies everything about WV that I missed. The course, one of rolling hills, meanders through the mountains and houses of the Poca River Valley.

A cool breeze blows from the Poca River, and the sounds of song birds, geese, and yes, even a rooster, provide music for the run. Friendly neighbors sit on their porches cheering runners as they pass. Eight o'clock Saturday, May 13th, runners lined up on one side of the Poca River bridge. At the sound of the gun, they sprinted off. Larry Taylor led the pack, speeding his way to victory with a time of 52:54.

The start of the Poca River Run on the bridge in Cross Lanes
His friend and winner of last year's Poca River 15K, Glen Baldwin, fought his way for second place. Tim Howard placed third passing up Nantucket (check this name with the fourth place winner and make sure I got it right) before the finish line. "It's my first run of the year," said Howard.

The weather started out out humid and warm, or as the runners describe it: HOT. Towards the end of the race, the rains came. Taylor timed his run perfectly, finishing before the downpour. "The last mile was dry for me," he said. "The mud was slick where they were working on the road." He is referring to the red-clay covered roads that made the hills a bit treacherous. Runners veered off the blacktop whenever possible to run on the grass avoiding injury. However, runners welcomed the rain. "The rain cooled us off. There were lots of runners dehydrating," said Chip Urling who ran with his father Charles Urling. "They need more water stations."

Howard nipping at the heels
The lack of sufficient water stations may be the only thing missing from the Poca River 15K. Loyal runners compete every year. Rob McCracken, a loyal competer, sat on the sidelines as a spectator this year. He says he is saving his energy for the When Pigs Fly Marathon in Cinncinnatti, Ohio tomorrow when asked why he didn't run this year.

"The course is a rolling loop. There is a short, steep incline before the finish, and that's the only bad one," said McCracken. So, if you ever get a hankering to leave WV, come run the Poca River 15K. The mixture of camaraderie and scenic mountain view will remind you why WV is Almost Heaven.