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Clarksburg reaping 10K benefits

CLARKSBURG -- There's no questioning the growth of the Greater Clarksburg 10K in its short history.

In just six years, what had organizers initially holding their collective breath, has now blossomed into one of the nation's top five road races.

It's history is undeniable. New York City and Boston Marathon winners annually are a part of the elite field. Racing legends Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter and Billy Mills have made appearances. This year, one of the most recognizable names in women's racing, Grete Waitz, a nine-time New York City Marathon winner, made her way to Clarksburg.

But for all that it's done in the past, the Greater Clarksburg 10K should be more commended on what it's done for not only it's own future, but for that of the city of Clarksburg.

Organizers held the first-ever chicken wing cookoff and an arts and crafts fair on Third Street. It kept those who normally would've departed the streets at 10:30 around for a good while in the afternoon.

While it's still by no means all the strides needed for a city that is a shadow of its former self. It was without question a step in the right direction and one that could easily see marked growth much the same way as the race itself.

What these events have done is help make the 10K an event the entire community can embrace.

"It's just amazing to watch this event grow and grow each year," 10K Race Chairman Larry Mazza said. "I think what you see now is an entire community, the business, the people coming together to make this a success. The way people have grasped it is unbelievable.

"I think we literally had one volunteer for each runner this year. I honestly think it's one of the best community projects I've ever seen."

And it's one that's sure to grow larger next year.

Beginning in 2003, the Greater Clarksburg 10K will join Pittsburgh and Cleveland to form a racing triple crown. That will mean even more runners and more importantly, more bodies back in downtown Clarksburg.

"That's something that can only help this area," Mazza said. "Your talking about the two biggest markets around Clarksburg. That's a lot of correspondence that's going to be coming through our city."

Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at mnutter@exponent-telegram.com