Runners hit the pavement for Morgantown Marathon

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WDTV)-- Runners laced up their tennis shoes Sunday morning for the second annual Morgantown Marathon.

Hundreds of people competed in the half marathon totaling 13.1 miles and the full marathon totaling 26.2 almost heavenly miles.

The Morgantown Marathon raises funds every year for Operation Welcome Home, a local organization that helps veterans get reacquainted with normalcy.

The marathon is organized by Marine Jamie Summerlin and his wife Tiffany.

Summerlin knew he wanted to find a way to combine his love for running and his passion for supporting veterans and the inspiration behind this marathon started 4 years ago.

"In 2012, he actually ran across the United Stateds with the idea to raise money and awareness for wounded veterans and just veterans in general. Both he and I are veterans and so it's definitely something that is near and dear to our hearts. and it's just important for everyone to feel like they can go out and make a difference whether is be something small or something large," said Tiffany Summerlin, Morgantown Marathon organizer.

While Tiffany says race day is always exciting, her favorite part of the day is welcoming back all of the runners when they cross the finish line.

"I think it's just cool to stand back and know that all these people are experiencing extreme highs, Extreme lows out there on the course, but the people that battle through this course is very hard. It's very hilly and very physically and mentally demanding for these people," said Summerlin.

And, this course was even more difficult for one runner in particular.

James Leitner ran the marathon in an effort to help raise awareness and donations towards clean water projects in Africa. He did this by carrying a little extra weigh.

"I'm doing a marathon a month with 45 pounds of water to symbolize the long walks with water women and children do every day," said Leitner, Board Member of the Philadelphia Serengeti Alliance.

While 26.2 almost heavenly and hilly miles seems daunting, James had a plan to tackle the course with only one goal: beating the time limit.

"It's really hard to run. You really got to fast pace walk the whole time, which kind of brings in a challenge because on a marathon like this, which it's really hilly you have to do your best to beat the minimum time 6 hours and 30 minutes," said Leitner.

For more information on James's cause you can visit the tab on your right.

And to keep up with the latest information on the Morgantown Marathon, you can follow them on Twitter @MotownMarathon or click on the Related Link section to your right.