Weather Can’t Slow Runners in Debbie Green 5K

WHEELING – When Cleophas Ngetich awoke Saturday morning, temperatures were perfect for the Kenyan native to have a record-breaking performance at the annual Debbie Green 5K.

About mid-afternoon, however, the skies opened up and the rain came down.

While the rain stopped by the time the race began, the humidity stuck around.

Ngetich won the race with a time of 13:50, but blamed the sticky weather for not being able to post a faster time.

”This race was good,” the 24-year-old said. ”I wasn’t able to run my best time because of the humidity. I prefer to run in hotter temperatures.”

At last year’s ”Race for a Reason,” history was made as Mourad Mafofit of Morocca became the first runner in West Virginia history to break the 14-minute mark in a 5K. His time of 13:46 was four seconds faster than Ngetich’s.

The first female to finish was Susan Jerotich. Her time of 15:39 placed her 13th overall.

Jerotich noted the hills didn’t play a factor in her race as she was familiar with the course. She finished third in the Open Women’s division last year.

Though she did better her time by 24 seconds from last year and set a personal best, Jerotich admitted she was sick and didn’t think she would do well in the race.

”I tried my best,” the 27-year-old said. ”I’m happy with my time.”

Both Ngetich and Jerotich run out of Chapel Hill, N.C. and are apart of group.

The victory marked the fourth in seven races for Ngetich, who has been in America for about two months.

He posted his best 5K time on May 24 during in Westfield, Ma. when he broke the tape in 13:30.

Jerotich has been in the country for the past four months and usually does ”at least two races a month.”

Her victory Saturday was her fourth this year.

Jimmy Spisak, 23 of Pittsburgh, finished second with a time of 14:09, while member Simion Chirchir (14:12) was third.

Sophy Jepchirchir, also of, was the second female to finish. Her time of 15:51 was 13 seconds faster than third place finisher Ann Wanjiru (16:04), 28 of Lansign, Mi.

Moundsville’s Gary Bennett, 46, was the first male walker to finish as he crossed in 23:29, while Wheeling’s Patricia Contraguerro (25:50) was the first female walker.

In all, 592 runners and 393 walkers participated in the event.