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Great start, great finish

by Mike Nutter

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- More than 600 competitors took part in what has now become a nationally recognized event Saturday as the fifth annual Greater Clarksburg 10K once again attracted some of the world's top runners to the city.

James Koskei of Kenya won with a new race record of 28:30 -- two seconds faster than the former record. The 33-year-old held off Evans Rutto (28:31) and Gilbert Koech (28:31) for the victory. Catherine Ndereba, the 1999 champion, won her second women's title with a time of 33:15.

"It was just a phenomenal race," race chairman Larry Mazza said. "It was very competitive and a great finish.

"The weather was great for running. If you had to call it anything else, it was perfect."

Temperatures were in the mid-60s with low humidity for the 8:30 a.m. start.

Former 1964 Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills started the race. Mills won the 10,000-meter run in the Tokyo summer games.

Although he now resides in California, Mills said the Greater Clarksburg 10K is a nationally and internationally recognized race.

"It's pretty amazing that the coordinators have been able to do this in just a short amount of time," Mills said. "I hear about it in California, it receives national coverage, but I was not prepared for the depth of competition.

"It was a very strong field, but there was a friendly atmosphere with the race. Everyone you see here seems to be having a great time, and the city of Clarksburg really embraces it."

Following the race, the fourth annual KidsK was held, drawing nearly 100 participants. The awards ceremony was held at 11 a.m. in the lot beside Dominion Resources.

Mazza said despite the success, plans will begin almost immediately for improving the race. Mazza hopes to finalize a deal making the Greater Clarksburg 10K part of the triple crown series to offer more incentive and money. The Clarksburg 10K would join the Pittsburgh Great Race and the CVS Pharmacy 10K in Cleveland.

"We're very happy with the way everything went," Mazza said. "To have someone like Billy Mills come in is great."

ESPN will televise portions of the race on its Saucony Running. The show will televise twice -- Aug. 27 at 1:30 p.m. and Sept. 1 at 5 a.m.

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

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