For the News Tribune


KEYSER - For the first eight years, Jennings Randolph Lake provided a beautiful backdrop for the “Conquer the Dam 5K” hosted by Aging & Family Services of Mineral County.  Competitors were able to run, walk, or a combination of both as they traveled through the park and across the dam and spillway. Generally closed to the public, the passage across the dam and spillway was a key draw for participants from throughout the tri-state area.


According to Scott Mallery, director of Aging and Family Service, “To the social restrictions with COVID-19, we had to make some changes to this year’s 5K. This year, the race was titled ‘Conquer the Dam Coronavirus Virtual 5K.’  Participants ran their 5K at a location of their choice up to May 10 so they could practice social distancing.”


Woody Snoberger, 35, of Ridgeley, and Amy Tracey, 37, of Bayard, took first place in the male and female categories of this year’s event.


Snoberger’s time would have broken the course record set in 2015 by Frostburg resident Gavin Caupp with a time of 17:31, but the participants of the 2020 event did not need to conquer the hill at the end of the Jennings Randolph course!


Tracey finished 13th overall and first for females with a time of 25:37.  Garrett Ferguson, 15, of Keyser, finished second in a time of 17:23, and Noah Copley, 50, of Fort Gay, West Virginia, finished third in a time of 18:45.


Christian Cimaglia, 16, of Ridgeley, finished fourth overall with a time of 19:09; Andrew Ferguson, 49, of Keyser, placed fifth at 19:15; and Griffith Paugh, 15, of Keyser, finished sixth in a time of 19:20.


Jennifer VanPelt, 42, of Rawlings, was the second female and 15th overall with a time of 26:51 - a time matched by Beth Lambert, 40, of Westernport.


Mallery stated, “While we were sad that we were unable to have the live event, we were excited to see the support our Meals on Wheels has received. Because of the virtual aspect of this race, we were able to have the best attendance to date.


“A total of 281 individuals were registered. Our youngest was two months old, and our oldest was 100-year-old, Arnold Bailey, of Keyser.


“One of the benefits of hosting a virtual race was that we were able to have participants outside the local area. We had individuals from 11 states: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia!


“We appreciate the fact that the community took advantage of this opportunity to support the Meals on Wheels program.”


The Meals on Wheels Program of Mineral County assists people who are homebound by providing a hot, nutritious meal each weekday. The program, designed to help prevent unnecessary institutionalization, helps the frail elderly maintain independence and avoid social isolation.


“In addition to the many staff that made this virtual event a success, we thank our sponsors, including many area businesses, that supported the cause. Chief among them were:  M&T Bank, UPMC and Keyser Rotary. Other sponsors include Keyser Kiwanis Breakfast Club, Grady’s 1 Stop, Markwood Funeral Home, Health Matters Urgent Care, Naomi Snider, Fort Ashby Lioness Club, Timbrook Ford, and the Fort Ashby Lions Club.


“We hope to be back at Jennings Randolph next May but plan to keep a virtual aspect of the race available for those outside our area.” he said.