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Friday, August 4, 2006 - Saturday, August 5, 2006 -- Wheeling, WV
Debbie Green Memorial 5K & Green Mile (iPO Event Id#: 7503)

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Walk Results] [Green Mile Results] [Photos]

Past Coverage [1998] [1999] [2000] [2001] [2002] [2003] [2004]

Story and photos by Julie Black

Photo by Julie Black
Ron Green stands with 7-year old recipient, Autumn
Most often during championship races we hear about the winners, the elite runners, and event sponsors. But the Debbie Green Memorial 5K Run and Walk for Leukemia tells a different story. The "Race for a Reason" is more than just the official 5K National Championship for the Road Runners Club of America, it's a community-wide effort to help local children who suffer Leukemia.

This disease is cancer that affects bone marrow, the soft, spongy center of the bone that produces blood cells. The marrow produces too many immature white blood cells that are abnormally shaped and cannot carry out their usual duties of fighting infection. The name "Leukemia" literally means "white blood."

Race director Ron Green knows the disease all too well. Ron lost his 7-year old sister, Debbie, in 1972 to the dreadful disease. In honor of Debbie, this event is held annualy to benefit a young, local recipient. This year's recipient of the race was 7-year old Autumn Gossett of Moundsville, West Virginia. Autumn was introduced to the crowd of hundreds on race day. With a smile on her face, she won the hearts of everyone. Autumn's Pit Crew T-shirts adorned with a picture that she drew on the front were seen everywhere. The words on the front were Autumns, "Don't be afraid."

Photo by Julie Black
Debbie's Dash kicks things off early Saturday evening
The event was a two day affair, with the Green Mile held on Friday night, and Debbie's Dash Kid's Race on Saturday followed by the 5K Run and Walk, a celebration, and a feast. Winner of the Green Mile was 24-year old Jacob Yater of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Yater finished in 4 minutes and 21 seconds.

An online quote reads, "Julius Kibet, a Kenyan who was a back-to-back Ogden Newspapers 20K Classic runner (2004-05) pulled ahead of the field about 1 mile into Saturday's Debbie Green 5K and looked back only to see if the competition was still there."
--- Jim Elliot, The Times Leader

Photo by Julie Black
Elite runners lead the pack
Julius Kibet who trains in West Chester, Pennsylvania, was the overall winner of the 5K run with a blazing time of 14:11. Kibet now owns the third fastest overall Debbie Green course time in the 5K's history books. George Towett (14:18) of Marietta, Georgeia, did his best to beat Kibet, but fell behind him in the last mile on the downhill section to take second. Benson Cheruiyot of Chapel Hill, NC claimed third in 14:25.

Transported Russian athlete Natalia Belova, who now makes her home in Manhattan, New York said to Channel 7, WTRF in Ohio, "I just run, run, run, run...because I like to win." And win she did, with a time of 16:35 she was the first overall female finisher of the day. Jessica Kuhr of Ohio took second in 16:53. This great performance from Kuhr comes just two weeks after her big win at the Johnny Cake 5-Miler. Sonja Friend-Uhl of Wellington, Florida placed third in 17:31. Sonja is currently ranked in the top ten women in the country for distances from the 1500m to the Half-Marathon.

Photo by Julie Black
Good racing fun for all ages
Top walker of the day was local Tony Purpura of Wheeling, WV. Purpura finished the 5K walk in 30:40. Also of Wheeling, Tammy Paull took home second in 31:50, and David Workman of Chadyside, Ohio rounded out the top spots in third.

Afterwards, racers were treated to a pizza feast by the riverfront, complete with DJ music, plenty of fluids, and family fun. The event grows a little more every year, with 100 more people signing up for the mile, and participants coming in from all over. Not only is the race good for the child who benefits, but it's also wonderful for Leukemia wareness, and community unity.

Special thanks to Comcast, RS Racing Systems, and The Road Runners Club of America.