Three runners go sub 14 in Debbie Green

• Magut wins overall 5K title

WHEELING — Earlier this week, Ron Green stated that this year’s field in the 22nd annual Debbie Green 5K Run/Walk for Leukemia could be the best Wheeling has seen.

And it sure was a race for the history books. In the end, three runners broke the 14-minute barrier while nine of which ran faster than 15 minutes.

The female competition was just as impressive as two were able to clock in under 16 minutes.

Raymond Magut, broke from the pack after the second mile and broke the tape with a record-setting 13:41 on Saturday to claim the overall and male title.

“The race was fantastic and the course was good,” Magut said. “The race was really competitive. The course was good and flat.”

After winning the race last year, Vicoty Chepngeno was back for another victory. And she was able to defend her title as she crossed the finish line 15:38, breaking her mark from last year by one second.

“I ran my best time (Saturday) and I’m very happy for that,” Chepngeno said.

Pamela Cherotich was the second female to cross the finish line in a time of 15:57.

At the mile mark, it looked like it could be anybody’s race. Eight runners were in the lead pack and clocked in under 4:30, with Magut in the middle of it.

“For three men to go under 14 (minutes) and for two women to go under 15 and for them to be so close is phenomenal,” Green said. “That’s all world-class speed down here in Wheeling. It’s just fabulous. It’s just fabulous.”

Edwin Kibichiy came in second overall as he finished in 13:52 while James Ngandu crossed the finish line in an impressive 13:57.

Silas Kipruto cracked the 15-minute barrier (fourth place, 14:08) along with Simion Chirchir (fifth, 14:09), Mourad Marofit (sixth, 14:17), Cyrus Korir (seventh, 14:34), Benson Kiema (eighth, 14:52) and Matthew Cheboi (ninth, 14:54). Peterson Muthoni rounded out the top 10 with a 15:06.

“They were out and setting the pace,” Green said about the lead pack. “There were about eight or nine with three or four behind them. Then they got to Mile 2 in about 8:30, 8:35, which they were speeding it up a little bit. So the second mile was about 4:15 or 4:10. Once they got on their way back to Main Street, right around the (Imperial) Teacher’s Store, that’s where (Magut) made his break and you could see him separating right there and everybody knew it. The other guys couldn’t catch him. He got a good 100 yard lead at that point and that’s what he won by, about 10 seconds. He had a pretty good lead and that’s when he took it.”

Rounding out the top 10 for the females were Iveen Chepkemoi (third, 16:22), Judy Cherotich (fourth, 16:50), Meseret Merine (fifth, 16:53), Esther Wanjiru (sixth, 17:19), Ann Mazur Robb (seventh, 18:16), Wheeling’s Kelsey Chambers (eighth, 19:11), Kirsten McMichael (ninth, 19:22) and Bellaire’s Aimee Vavrek (10th, 19:40).

“What a great turnout. What a fast turnout,” Green said. “What a great field with elite athletes from top to bottom. There’s so many great athletes in this race. All the locals, they do great and all the age group awards are going to be talented runners and walkers from all over the Valley. You can’t ask for anything better. The conditions and weather were beautiful. It’s a beautiful race to put on down here on the waterfront. I’m just ecstatic with everything.”

Jamie Tarr was the first local male runner to cross the finish line as he clocked in at 16:54.

Gary Bennet of Moundsville was the overall and male walk champion (27:42) while Sarah Donley of Bethesda was the first female to clock in at 34:24.

With another successful 5K in the books, Green has already a few new ideas for next year. For Green, though, there’s no time for taking a break.

“There’s too many kids to help. Too many kids to help,” Green said. “I’ve got plenty of time to rest when I’m gone. You’re only here on this earth for a short period of time and you better make the most of it when you can. It’s as simple as that because when you’re gone, there ain’t no getting it back. You better make the most of it when you can.”