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Friday, May 26, 2000 - Saturday, May 27, 2000 -- Wheeling, WV
Big Boy Classic 20K
Story and photos by Julie Bertsch

[Big Boy 20K Run] [Big Boy Mile] [Big Boy 20K Walk]
Past Coverage: [1999 20K] [1999 Mile] [1998 20K] [1998 Mile]

[Overall 20K Run Results] [Class 20K Run Results]
20K Run Pics: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]
[Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9] [Set 10] [Set 11] [Set 12]

Big Boy Classic
The mass start of the Big Boy 20K Classic Run
Every year, right around this time, something special happens to the historic town of Wheeling, West Virginia. Now in it's 24th year, Wheeling's Big Boy Classic 20K Race has more than proven it's popularity, and become one of the best races in the nation. Attracting elite runners from over 8 different countries and 4 different continents, this year's race was set to be one of the most challenging yet. There was a clean slate for 2000, as many new faces from around the world stood tall at the line on race day. The champions from 1999 did not return, which left a lot opportunities open for the elite runners who were new to the course.

It's a well known fact that runners from Kenya have dominated the top five spots for the past few years, and on Saturday, May 27th, there was not much of a change in that. Still, there were many new surprises, as one particular West Virginian from Wheeling, hung with the pack of elites for most of the race.

Big Boy Classic
Sabrina Peters gives it all she's got at the top of Wheeling Hill
The american elites to grace the course were new comer Sabrina Peters from Phoenix, Arizona who finished 40th overall with time of 1:18.26, and of course Bill Rodgers, who has been a part of the Big Boy for years. Rodgers won the the 20K last in 1981 with a time of 1:00.09. This year, Rodgers took first in his age group with a time of 1:14.13.

The course is the one thing that racers seem to talk about the most. The brutal, uphill mile climb up 29th street is always one of the biggest challenges of the day. Most runners claim, "After I make it up 29th street, I'll be fine." The 12.4 mile course takes racers through the residential areas of Wheeling, and downtown along the Ohio River.

Big Boy Classic
The front of the pack stays tight throughout the race
Large cash prizes and well known recognition attract the world's elites, and this year $30,000 worth of prizes were presented to the winners.

The run was off to a wet start, but the cool weather made running a bit easier for most. The Kenyans lead the pack, but one particular young runner from Wheeling was not too far behind. Nine elite runners from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Ontario fought for 1st place up until mile 8 when Abel Ondeyo of Kenya took over. Ondeyo took home $4,000 and 1st place overall with a time of 1:02:43. Tekeste Kebede(1:02.46), of Ethiopia finished a close 2nd, just 3 seconds behind Ondeyo. Joseph Kibor(1:02.51), one of the expected winners from Kenya, took 3rd.

Big Boy Classic
Ricky Moore has a stong finish in his hometown of Wheeling
The West Virginia runner that I keep referring to is Wheeling native, Ricky Moore. Winner of the 1999 Debbie Green Memorial 5K, among others, Moore was the 1st American to finish the Big Boy 20K on Saturday. A minute or so behind the race's Masters champion from Mexico, Martin Mondragon, Ricky Moore finished 13th overall with a phenomenal time of 1:09:05. Moore fought to hang with the pack of front runners up until mile 3, but fell back to set a pace of 5:34. Look for Moore in the future, because this is one fast Mountaineer!

Big Boy Classic
Kathy Willming smiles despite the heavy rains
The race for the women's top spot was among the elites. An unsuspected late entry from Ethiopia, Elfenesh Alemu, had entered. Alemnu had just won a marathon in Japan last month in Japan. Alemu did not break Catherine Ndereba's course record of 1:09.37 from 1999. She did finish with a great time of 1:11.38 to take 1st for the women and 17th overall.

Lucia Subano(1:13.56), from Hamilton, Ontario captured 2nd and 21st overall. Another late entry into the race from Kenya was Margaret Kagiri(1:14.29), who took home the cash for 3rd place for the ladies.

Big Boy Classic
Some folks idea of fun is a wet, 12.4 mile run!
There was a lot of fun to be had by all, because despite the chilly downpours there was plenty of hot food at the finish provided by Big Boy Restaurants of course. Once again, race directors Hugh Stubbs, and Denny Stephan did a wonderful job. Thanks to the Wheeling Police Department, the traffic scene went smooth. We'll see you at the Big Boy Classic next year in 2001!

Some of the major race sponsors for 2000 were Big Boy Restaurants, United National Bank, & Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp.

Professional timing and championchip services were provided by Mark S. Courtney and crew at Runner's High.
Check out the coverage from the 1999 Big Boy Classic