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Saturday, September 1, 2007 -- Charleston, WV
Charleston Distance Run (iPO Event Id#: 10105)

2007: [Photos] [Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results]

Coverage: [1998] [1999] [2000] [2001] [2002] [2003] [2004] [2005]

Charleston Distance Run photo by JR Petsko
2007 Charleston Distance Run photo by JR Petsko
Girma Going the Distance

Story and photos by JR Petsko

Thirty five years is a great run for any event, and that what hundred's from the east coast were looking forward to this past weekend. This year marked thirty five years of runners taking to the streets of the state capital of West Virginia.

The Charleston Distance Run starts off in scenic downtown and climbs its way into some of the beautiful suburbs that surround the city before it drops back down into the city streets. The mile course is very challenging but that sure didn't stop over five hundred runners from showing up for the event. Some came to win, but other just came for the bragging rights that were able to complete the course.

Charleston Distance Run photo by JR Petsko
2007 Charleston Distance Run photo by JR Petsko
After taking in the scenery of the downtown starting area I headed out on the course about three miles into it. As I awaited for the first runners to come I couldn't help but notice the massive amount of volunteers and the effort that they were putting forth to get things ready. I never got a chance to meet any of them but their effort sure didn't go unnoticed. A few minutes later it was on.

The leader at this point in the race was neck and neck between Tesfaye Girma of West Chester, Pennsylvania and Chris Seaton of Raleigh, North Carolina. Not far behind them came a host of other that looked ready to challenge for the race lead with included Jynocel Basweti of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Gideon Mutisya of Hartford, Connecticut, Benjamin Lukowski of Knoxville, Tennessee, and local runner John Davis of Huntington, West Virginia.

For the women thing were also just as close. Hometown girl Maria Busienei, of Charleston had the lead, but a host of runners were not letting any daylight get between the lead and them.

Charleston Distance Run photo by JR Petsko
2007 Charleston Distance Run photo by JR Petsko
The following pack behind Busienei included Gladys Asiba of Royersford, Pennsylvania, Tere Stouffer of Sevierville, Tennessee, Catherine Fenster of Wooster, Ohio, and Tammy Slusser of Monroeville, Pennsylvania.

By the time the leader passed a mass of runners were headed my way. Standing in the middle of road taking photos with five hundred people running at you is kinda a weird feeling. I stood my ground and tried to get as many pictures as I could.

When the last runners made their way past me and tough the aid station the road was just covered in cups from everyone trying to get a drink, but once again the volunteers were all over it and had it cleaned up before I could even get a photo of the comical site. With the racers gone it was time to hope in the car and try to get in front of them to catch some more of the action.

Grima was able to pull away from the rest and headed across the bridge into Charleston for the overall victory. Grima would cross the line in 1:16:26, followed by Basweti in second in a time of 1:17:16. Seaton would round out the top three by put in a time of 1:18:53, he was followed by Mutisya in fourth crossing the line in 1:22:53 and Davis in 1:25:11.

Charleston Distance Run photo by JR Petsko
2007 Charleston Distance Run photo by JR Petsko
For the women Busienei was able to put time into all the other women runner on the second half of the course and took the women's overall win in a time of 1:27:38. She was followed by Asiba in 1:30:32 and Stouffer in third crossing the line in 1:35:33. In fourth it was Fenster in 1:38:15 and in fifth was Slusser in 1:38:38.

Before the race Girma's manager, Hussein Makke of Philadelphia, PA, a man familiar with the Charleston course had suggested the Ethiopian would set the course record. Girma's time, however, was more than four minutes shy of Gideon Mutisya's all-time best of 1:12:24 set in 1996. "I will try again next year." said Girma, who was running in Charleston for the first time and is new to the English language.

Through most of the hilly South Hills section, Girma, Basweti and Seaton ran together, but the 6-foot-4 Seaton struggled ascending the steep decline of Loudon Heights Road and fell back.

"My quads were really starting to feel it at 41/2 miles going downhill and just pounding." said Seaton, a marathon specialist who hopes to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team. Girma and Basweti stand nearly a foot shorter than Seaton and, as the taller runner noted, may have had an advantage going downhill.