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Saturday, August 7, 2010 -- Wheeling, WV
Debbie Green Memorial 5K Run/Walk for Leukemia (iPO Event Id#: 12629)

2010: [Details] [Coverage] [Photos]
Results: [Overall Results] [Results by Class] [More Results] [More Results] [More Results]

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Largest Crowd Ever for 13th Annual 5K

Story and Photos by Julie Black.

Debbie Green 5K photo by Julie Black
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Standing under the American flag as the anthem was sung; I looked around at many of the t-shirts. Groups of people wore the same colored shirt with the same thing on them, "In memory of ... " with dates, details, even photos of loved ones lost to leukemia, disease, and cancer.

Race director, Ron Green, knows it well. He's hosted the race for 13 years, and every year the event benefits one recipient, a child with leukemia.

While the flag flew and the people were quite, Ronnie retired many race numbers in honor of loved ones lost. The words of fictional character, Rocky Balboa, flashed through my head . . .

    "The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward."

The speech rang true as I looked at many faces and realized that no one there had let life get the best of them. They were doing their best to help change a life and with that ... moving forward.

Debbie Green 5K photo by Julie Black
See more race photos.
The Rocky theme song can be heard most every year at the Debbie Green Memorial 5K Run/Walk for Leukemia. Played for motivational purposes, the majority of the crowd really needed no extra motivation.

It was the biggest year ever for the event with 1,378 5K finishers and 224 one mile finishers totaling 1,602 participants not counting the Debbie's Dash kids race.

But the biggest surprise of the evening came from Ohio.

An Alumni of Malone College, Ryan Kienzle overtook the two front runners, Jeff Weiss and Isaac Birir in little more than 100 yards of the finish line. Kienzle looked to his left at Birir and turned on the juice. Birir gasped and began to high-step. It was a photo finish as Kienzle exploded through the tape in 14:40. He was the first American to win the Debbie Green (DG) 5K in 6 years.

Debbie Green 5K photo by Julie Black
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Isaac Birir has had no slouch 2010 season either. He had the third fastest time ever in the Crystal City Twilighter 5K and ran away with the overall win (14:48) in the Hyde Park Blast. He claimed second at DG with a time of 14:41.

Third overall went to Jeff Weiss (14:42), who also claimed third in the 2010 Cecil Jarvis Greater Clarksburg 10K in June.

There was no battle for first female when Clara Grandt of Morgantown, WV pulled away from Wendy Thomas.

Grandt pushed Wheeling's Logan Wojcik for first West Virginia finisher. She claimed the first place women's prize in 16:29. One of her most recent accomplishments includes finishing as the first female in the 2010 Cecil Jarvis Greater Clarksburg 10K. She is a member of the West Virginia University Women's Cross Country Team.

Wendy Thomas claimed a strong second with a time of 16:55. Luomila Stepanova crossed for third in 17:01.

Debbie Green 5K photo by Julie Black
See more race photos.
In the 5K walk which had 750 participants, George Krupica of Wheeling, WV blazed in for first with a time of 26:15.

Sarah Tipton, also of Wheeling, was the first women and 4th overall with a fast time of 29:46.

The evening ended with a pizza party and awards on the riverfront under the lights.

The The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register reported:

[ The new Health Plan Fitness 5K Team Challenge had over 193 participants. The top three teams in the brand new Health Plan Fitness Challenge were: Ohio Valley Runners'; A Step Ahead; and Team Health Plan.

Also taking place Saturday was Debbie's Dash and the retiring of three numbers - in honor of Mary and Felix Green and Martins Ferry's Patricia Graham.

"The first plaque that I ever took myself was for my mom and dad, and it meant a lot to me," Ron Green said. "My mom and dad are looking down on us smiling saying 'boy what a great race, Ron.' That's what they're saying." ]

Find out much more about this event at