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Saturday, May 29, 1999 -- Wheeling
Big Boy Classic 20K Run & Walk
Story and photos by Julie Bertsch

[Coverage] [Results]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6]

New Record!
Catherine Ndereba sets a new Big Boy Classic 20K record
Anxiety, excitement, preparation, and determination, were just a few words to describe Wheeling's 23rd Annual Big Boy Classic. Many wondered if the race could top the exciting finish of last year's Big Boy, with James Kariuki and Daniel Kihara, both from Kenya, battling it out stride for stride to the finish line. Still, the excitement had reached a new level this year when at the last minute an elite runner's schedule had become free. Runner's World 1998 No. 1 Runner in the World, and Running Times Magazine Road Racer of the Year, Catherine Ndereba from Kenya, entered the Big Boy Classic 20K. Winning 15 of her last 16 races, and setting 4 course records, Ndereba seemed to be a shoe-in for the Overall Female Championship.

Close Finish
Neck and neck down the stretch
For the first time ever, Ndereba ran Wheeling's hilly terrain and ran away with something else, a new course record as the Overall Womens Champion with a time of 1:09:37, averaging 5:30 miles! The race for the the Overall champion, while not dramatically close, was exciting as well. Peter Ndirangu of Kenya was as fast, and as strong, as ever finishing 1st Place Overall with a time of 1:01:19. With the leaders spread out at the finish, it was Benedich Ako (1:01:45), from Tanzania, finishing 2nd Overall and Joseph Waweru (1:02:09), from Kenya, finishing 3rd Overall. The 1998 Male Masters Champ Martin Mondragon (1:04:13), from Mexico, captured the 1999 Masters title more than 2 seconds faster than his finish last year.

Just Walking!
The walkers started just before the runners
All eyes were on the top two walkers up front at the halfway point, but all eyes fell on only one walker at the finish. That walker was Bobbi Jo Chapman (1:57:08), who was not only the Overall Women's Champion, but was also the 1st Place Overall Walker! Not too far behind her was a walker who has won many competitive walks in the past, Steve Bence (1:59:45), finished 1st Place in the Male category. Another female who was in the top 3 finishers was Jeannie Dorton (2:12:49), who finished 3rd Overall in the walk.

Finally, let's not forget about Bill Rodgers who was running in another of his many Big Boy Classic races. As usual, he was setting the standard as he finished 21st overall, and first in the 50-54 mens age group. Still churning out consistent miles in under six minutes, his finishing time was 1:13:09.

We'd like to give special thanks to S. Mark Courtney and The Runner's High for doing such a fantastic job with all the race results!