WHEELING - Elite distance runners could care less about what the course looks like ahead of a race.
Just ask Alena Reta, who got into the Friendly City Saturday morning and didn't even bother taking a gander at 3.1 mile jaunt he would face in a few short hours during the 15th annual Debbie Green Memorial 5K.
Running along side a solid field of world-wide competitors, including Nicholas Kurgat and William Christian for the best part of two-plus miles, Reta broke away in the final mile and came home with a time of 14:11 and the top prize in the Green Memorial, which is the Cadillac of all area road races, at Heritage Port.
Green 5K Start
"I had never seen the course, but it was awful hilly," Reta said moments after crossing the finish line. "I like to get out and run from the front. That way, if anyone goes really, fast (early), I know I'll have to go with them."
Kurgat finished second in the event with a time of 14:22, while Christian was third in 14:37.
"I was able to run my own pace and I know by doing that I'll be able to catch the people if I have to in front of me," Reta said.
MARTINS FERRY’S Cedric Robinson turns a corner during Saturday night’s Debbie Green 5K?Memorial Race in downtown Wheeling. He was the top east Ohio runner.
The women's race was captured by Bekelecit Bedada, a 21-year old from New York. She ran the 3.1 miles in 16:23, which was just two seconds ahead 26-year old Chemtai Rionotukei.
Bedada elected not to talk to the media after the race because she didn't speak English well enough.
The first local runner to finish the race was former Wheeling Central standout Bobby Herron, who finished in 16:22, which was good enough for 18th place overall.
The first Eastern Ohio competitor to finish was former Martins Ferry distance runner Cedric Robinson, who was unhappy with his time of 17:10. He blamed his slower-than-usual time on the fact that he was breaking in new shoes.
St. Clairsville's Shane Scheuer finished in 17:35, which was good enough for 29th place overall.
Former Buckeye Local head cross country coach Eric Laughlin was 31st overall and the second Masters Man to finish, posting a 17:57.
The Grand Master's age group was a sweep by the Buckeye Local cross country staff. Wayne McCracken and Diane McCracken - the husband and wife duo - captured the division. Wayne turned in a 19:53, while Diane finished in 22:15.
In the walk, Barnesville's Carl Kondrach prevailed overall in a time of 27:57, which was more than a minute faster than 60-year old Don Slusser, who was second.
Quaker City resident Kathy Ervin won the female walk in a time of 30:49, which was almost two minutes faster than walk runnerup Annette White of Wheeling.
The Green Memorial 5K, which attracted more than 1,500 competitors, benefits the fight against leukemia.