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Saturday, August 30, 2003 -- Charleston, WV
31st Annual Charleston Distance 15 Mile & 5K Runs (iPO Event Id#: 5581)
Story and photos by Ariana Kincaid

[Details] [Coverage]
Results: [15M Overall] [15M by Class] [5K Overall] [5K by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9]
[Set 10] [Set 11] [Set 12] [Set 13] [Set 14] [Set 15] [Set 16] [Set 17] [Set 18] [Set 19] [Set 20] [Set 21] [Set 22]
Past Coverage: [1998] [1999] [2000] [2001] [2002]

Race Pic
A little downhill after the "Capital Punishment" uphill
The 31st Annual Charleston Distance Run was beset by thundershowers that drenched both the 5k and the 15-mile races. It left folks in the stands at Laidley Field wondering who they were clapping for when runners entered the stadium, as the sound system was shut down because of the threat of lightning.

But Friday night's festivities were warm and dry inside the Charleston Civic Center. Not only was there a fabulous pasta dinner, for those interested in carbo-loading prior to race day, but there was also an EXPO with running gear, apparel and accessories, as well as an hour-long runner's clinic with famed runner Bill Rodgers.

Race Pic
Rain, rain, go away...
Unfortunately, our esteemed clinician was unable to run the Distance Run. He sustained the first serious injury of his running career, a broken tibia, the week before. Rodgers is a four-time winner of both the New York and Boston Marathons, and while he has an esteemed history with the Charleston Distance Run, his best finish was 2nd, in 1974.

Saturday dawned warm and muggy, and the crowd of runners seemed subdued. Was it the humidity? The contemplation of a grueling course? Or simply the interested silence of a crowd watching a man at work? Mark Courtney was busy laying down and testing the equipment which would "read" the chips all runners were given to attach to their shoes, the wonders of ChampionChip technology. The runners ran across red rubber pads at the start, the 5-mile, 10-mile, and finish of both the race; this allowed for much more accurate and readily available results for everyone.

Race Pic
Larry Taylor splashes to 3rd Masters, 15th Overall
The Kenyans led the 15 mile race from the start. They ran abreast at the beginning, but at the end, only one name counted: Hillary Lelei, 24, who resides in Cary, North Carolina, with a time of 1:16:06. Five seconds behind him after a sprint around the track at Laidley, was Augustus Kavutu, 26, listing his home as Kenya. These two were off the front for most of the race.

Over a minute back of the leaders, third place went to Daniel Cheruiyot, 28, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, with a time of 1:17:23. Rounding out the top five, and another minute back, were two more Kenyans, Jared Segara and Michael Musili, both 26, with times of 1:18:18 and 1:18:34, respectively.

Race Pic
A lot of close finishes at Laidley Field
On the women's side, Silvia Skvortsova, 28, of Russia, who trains in Rockville, Maryland, finished with a time of 1:31:52. Second place honors went to 4'9" Alice Muriithi, 29, a Kenyan who now lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania, with a time of 1:34:43.

Kristin Dudley of Kennesaw, Georgia, 31, finished third with a time of 1:36:07. And how about a shout-out to her husband, Mike Dudley, who finished 9th overall at 1:23:46? Wrapping up the top five women were Robin Lawhorn, 32, of Frankfort, Kentucky, with a time of 1:36:35, and Tammy Slusser, 38, hailing from Monroeville, Pennsylvania, with a time of 1:38:29.

Scott High School dominated the top ten in the 5K last year, filling half the slots. This year, however, defending champ Dylan Drinkard is in college at West Virginia Wesleyan, and the other four gentlemen were competing elsewhere.

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5K training for a future 15 Miler?
This year's crowd was treated to a photo finish however, with both Charlie Moore, 23, of Beckley, and Matt Null, 16, of Hometown, West Virginia, finishing in 17:12. It took nearly an hour to determine the winner, with Moore emerging the victor in a photo finish. Third place went to Daniel Bailey, 28, of Kenova, West Virginia, with a time of 17:42.

The women's top female finisher was 6th overall, Christina Rawson of Sissonville, West Virginia, 36, with a time of 18:22. Jennifer Lattavo, 25, of Portsmouth, Ohio finished a distant second at 20:21. And finishing with a time of 21:10, was third place female Emily Bailey, 17, of Kenova.

Also competing in the 15-mile race was a group of National Guardsmen from Huntington, West Virginia, who ran in their fatigues and combat boots, carrying 50-pound packs on their backs. The typical "qualification run" for someone in the military is 12 miles, so the Distance Run was right up their alley!

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Fully loaded for 15 miles
Not to be outdone, a special forces unit from Huntington competed in the 5K, while running in formation and carrying their unit banners. (An iPO shout-out goes to Keith Vititoe, who has not only served in Afghanistan, but also is a deputy with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department.)

Special thanks to Kelly Castleberry for organizing a fine race (and finishing in 2:21:32), and making it bigger and better each year. Also, thanks to Mark Courtney and Runner's High for the results, and to WQBE radio for carrying the race, Bill Rodgers for his fine color commentary, and to the many sponsors (AEP sponsored the ChampionChip scoring) who made this year's Charleston Distance Run an outrageous success!