WHEELING - West Virginia history was made in Wheeling on Saturday at the Debbie Green 5K run and walk as Mourad Mafofit of Morocco became the first runner in state history to break the 14-minute mark in a 5K with the winning time of 13:46.
Mesert Ritata Tolwak, who was running out of New York, was the first woman to finish with a time of 15.48.
Mafofit, who was running his first 5K on U.S. soil, already had his record breaking- performance in mind when he came to America according to his agent, Larisa Mikhaylova.
Photo by Tony Viola
Mourad Mafofit, a native of Morocco, crosses the finish line with a record time of 13:46 at Saturday night’s Debbie Green 5K run and walk
''He wanted to set the course record for this race and he did,'' Mikhaylova said. ''He's in very good condition right now.
''If you have a good condition (for this race), it's no problem. Sometimes if you are not ready, the first hill will kill you. And after the next (few) miles, you'll be dead.''
Though it was Mafofit's first time in Wheeling, it wasn't for Mikhaylova, who annually brings her runners out of Hebron, Ky. to the Friendly City.
''We do this race every year. Everybody knows this race. It is (a) very popular race. You see many strong runners in this race. From all over. From Morocco, from Kenya, from Russia ... from all over.''
After the race, Mafofit could see why his agent always seems to bring runners to the area.
''(The) people are nice, so kind,'' he said. ''Volunteers were working very well. Showed me the way. I knew where I needed to go.''
It was also Tolwak's first time in Wheeling.
''I am happy I (won), but the course is not easy,'' her translator said.
''She's won a couple of races before coming here,'' he continued. ''She ran a fast time (Saturday). She's young.'' - only 20 years old - ''She has a very good future.''
Lee Stough, 31, of Glassport, Pa. was the first male walker to finish with a time of 24:23, while Wheeling native Kirby Fazio, 28, was the first female walker to finish as she crossed the tape in 30:07.
In total, 1,305 participants finished the ''Race for a Reason'' which benefits local children and adults battling leukemia.