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Defending champs will be pushed

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- Once again, many of the world's top runners will converge upon Clarksburg today for what has become one of the nation's top road course races.

More than 800 runners are expected to be in the field for the 8:30 a.m. start of the Greater Clarksburg 10K in front of the Clarksburg Fire Department. The rigorous, undulating course annually attracts some of the elite international runners, and this year is no different.

Elite Runner's coordinator Dorsey Cheuvront again has put together what should be a competitive field. Heading the list are men's and women's defending champions, Reuben Cheruiyot and Naomi Wangui of Kenya.

Other notables in the field include Kenya's James Koski, arguably the world's top runner this season. Koski has already claimed seven victories this season with a personal record of 27:35. Kenya's John Korir, who won the Clarksburg 10K in 1998, is back and is riding three consecutive major victories into today's race.

Among the women's favorites is Kenya's Catherine Ndereba, the two-time defending Boston Marathon champion. The 29-year-old was the No. 1 ranked road racer in 1999 and 2000. She won the Bix 7 race in Iowa this year and won the Clarksburg 10K in 1999.

Aside from an always strong Kenya contingency of runners, the international field will also include road racers from Russia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Canada.

More than $20,000 in total purse is up for grabs this year. The top men's and women's finisher will earn $3,000 each.

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

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