CLIFFTOP, WV (WOAY) – Many dedicated runners and loyal supporters came out to Babcock State Park this weekend for the 16th annual Gristmill Grinder, a half marathon trail run that has now become one of the largest races in the state.
What would have been the marathon’s 17th year, everyone was more than happy to be back after the race’s cancellation last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So many races were canceled, including this one, three weeks before the event,” says Donnie Hudspeth, the director of the race. “So, it’s good to be able to come out here, we took COVID precautions, and it’s been a great race.”
Runners come from all over the country to participate in this challenging but popular 13-mile run. The marathon has now grown to nearly 300 participants, and a couple of them are just lucky enough to claim first place.
“It’s different from what I expected, there’s just so many different things like the rocks and the mountains, it was fun,” race winner Colten Lee says.
“It feels great to win but what feels even better is that Donnie was able to put this race on, and just to be out here on a beautiful spring day,” says first female winner Kristen Eddy.
And not only do the runners enjoy this marathon but so do the people on the sidelines showing their support.
“I love being an encouragement to people. We ring the cowbell so they know the water station is coming up and it encourages them to kind of step it up a little bit,” Patricia Dickerson, a water station worker, and supporter says.
The Gristmill Grinder may be full of challenging slopes and rugged terrain, but the beautiful views along the way are well worth it.