Home History books Debbie Green 5K in the History Books | News, Sports, Jobs

Debbie Green 5K in the History Books | News, Sports, Jobs

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picture by: Seth Stakey

Reuben Mosip breaks the finish line ribbon as the men’s champion of the 25th and final Debbie Green Memorial 5K held Sunday morning in Wheeling.

WHEELING – As much as he stressed the field of more than 700 runners and walkers to enjoy the day on Sunday, Ron Green struggled, himself, to fight the emotions.

Green – the founder and race director of the annual Debbie Green Memorial 5K – called the 25th and final episode of the race, which is named after her older sister who died of leukemia, “very bittersweet”.

“To end this race is the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life,” Green said as he stood along the course watching and rooting for crowds of runners and walkers. “I had a goal of 25 years. I’ve been re-evaluating (this race) for a long time and just want to spend more time with my family.

The Debbie Green 5K became the region’s premier 5K race simply because of Green’s desire and passion. And these traits were not driven by the number of entries. They were motivated by the fact that more entries mean more opportunities to help children battling cancer in the Ohio Valley.

“This race has been a big part of my life,” Green said. “I think going out on top is a great way to go out. When I say top I mean the race is very healthy, the finances are good and everything is good with the sponsors. I never wanted to see this race deteriorate.

Green may have to stop in about a week when he begins the process of kicking off planning for the 2023 race each year.

“It’s going to be an adjustment for me, but I know my wife and kids will help me out,” Green said. “In my heart, I know I’m ready.”

Green also saluted his race committee, which includes co-director Terry Whitecotton, who held up a ceremonial t-shirt during the race that highlighted that he started and completed all 25 Debbie Green 5Ks.

As Green buzzed around the course to make sure all the details were taken care of before the honking of the 9 a.m. horn, it took him a few minutes to figure it all out.

“My mother always said, ‘Debbie would never let the rain’ and it has never rained on the run in 25 years,” Green said, pushing back her emotions. “Everyone comes out and participates in this race to honor my sister and help these children in the valley. I don’t want people coming here to see me. I just want them to think of my sister and those kids.

picture by: Seth Stakey

Mary Munanu wins the Debbie Green Women’s 5K title on Sunday.

As the Debbie Green 5K grew from just a local race in Benwood to more of one with national fame, the peloton was more than locals. This was again the case for the final 3.1 miles as a pair of Kenyans, who are now based in Michigan, Reuben Mosip and Mary Munanu were the male and female winners respectively.

For Mosip, who ran a sizzling 14:18, it was his first time running the event and indeed his first time running a 5K on the road.

“I came to this race because I wanted to know my (personal best) time in a 5k road race,” Mosip said. “I’m usually a track guy, but I’m moving into more road racing. I’m happy with the time and now I can focus on my improvement.

As for Munanu, she etched her name in history as a repeat winner of Debbie Green. She won the title a year ago, when the race was held in the fall, and added the last title with a 15:49. This time actually earned him fourth place overall in the field.

“It was my favorite 5k race and it’s a really nice event so I decided to come back,” Munanu said. “I had hoped to set the course record, but I couldn’t do it. It was just a little too hot.

Sandwiched between Mosip and Munanu were two other Kenyan runners – Peter Lomong and Alexander Lomong – who finished second and third respectively.

The first American-born finisher was Caleb Keller, who ran 15:57 to finish fifth. The first runner in the zone was Brenden Sands. The 21-year-old, who runs at West Liberty and won the Ogden Half Marathon in May, finished seventh in 16:19. One place – and two seconds – behind Sands was recent John Marshall graduate Mack Allen, who finished eighth in 16:21.

The first male from eastern Ohio was Brody Cermak. The Dillonvale resident posted a 16:27 to finish 10th.

picture by: Seth Stakey

Former Oak Glen runner Kelsey Chambers races to a third-place finish, overall, in Sunday’s Debbie Green Memorial 5K.

A pair of former area stars were among the top women. Oak Glen graduate Kelsey Chambers, who raced at Wheeling Jesuit, was the top woman in the region, placing 19th in 19:08. One spot and three seconds behind her was Union Local graduate Hannah Kemp, who is currently enjoying a successful racing career at West Liberty. She posted a 19:11.

The 5k walk title went to Carl Kondrach of Barnesville, who won the green title for the third time. He was a winner on foot, running the course in 29:07, more than seven minutes better than the next man, who was Daniel Stewart of Wheeling, and nearly three minutes ahead of women’s champion Lauren Ritz of Wheeling.

“There’s normally great competition here, but a couple of my rivals didn’t show up (Sunday) which left the door open for me to win,” Kondrach said. “I’m still looking forward to this event, and I’m happy for Ronnie and the community who came out for a nice farewell for him. It’s hard to see this (race) end because it’s such a good thing. for the city and of course for the children.



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