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Saturday, August 30, 2008 -- Charleston, WV / Civic Center Drive
Charleston Distance Run (iPO Event Id#: 11103)

[Details] [Coverage] [Photos]
Results: [15M Overall] [15M By Class] [15M Teams] [5K Overall] [5K By Class] [5/10K Walk]

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36 Years Later, Still Going Strong

Story by Julie Black, photos by Don Parks

Thirty-six years ago Charleston Optometrist, Don Cohen, began planning one of the mountain state's largest road runs, the Charleston Distance Run (CDR). According to the official race web site, Cohen was quoted remembering the early days and the event's humble beginnings.

CDR Photo by Don Parks
Finishing on the track
"They had put all the stop watches for the finish line in the trunk of a car, but the car was being used to drive Jesse Owens around to view the course. Realizing just before the runners got to the finish line at the Civic Center that they didn't have any stop watches, nervousness set in." remarked Cohen. "Luckily, Joe Bundy, the track coach at Fairmont, West Virginia, had a stop watch and saved the day."

The first race had 213 finishers. This year's event attracted near 1,000 participants and many more spectators.

The infamous 15-miler was dedicated to George Adams, a local who competed in 19 Charleston Distance Runs, running his first CDR in 1978.

[ Family members participating in this year's run will be clad in blue-and-gold T-shirts emblazoned with "G.K. Relay in Memory of George K. Adams." wrote Charlotte Ferrell Smith of the Charleston Daily Mail. ]

A heftier budget that was increased by $3,000 allowed for more prize money offering $150/ first place, $100/ second place, and $50/ third place in all age groups. Aimed at supporting local runners, the extra prize money was well received.

The top finishers, usually pro-runners from out-of-state, were awarded $1,100 each. Second, third, fourth and fifth place overall were worth $800, $600, $400 and $300.

More new additions, the first walk in 19-years was added to the schedule. Walkers had their choice of two distances, a 3.1-miler or a 6.2-miler, and were timed.

WV Runners Take Home Some Top Spot Awards

CDR Photo by Don Parks
Emily Chaney of Oak Hill, WV claims 3rd overall for the women
The first home-state residents to complete the 15-mile run were in the top of their class. Maria Busienei was born in Kenya, but she now resides in Charleston, WV. Busienei was the first overall woman and 8th overall finisher. She earned her 3rd overall female title for the race with a time of 1:33:34.

Living in the hilly, small town of Oak Hill, WV, Emily Chaney (Runner's Market) cranked out a third overall female win by outkicking Tammy Slusser (Monroeville PA) by 3 seconds for a photo finish ending. Chaney is listed as one of the top 100 females (she's listed #48) to compete in this year's Boston Marathon. She also competes at the top level in off-road XTERRA triathlons and has won a few local trails runs.

Jason Pyles (BROOKS) of nearby Huntington, WV finished 4th overall with a time of 1:25:47, keeping a 5:44 pace. This personal coach set the course record at the Bun Run 5K and has won other local road races such as the Huntington Half-Marathon and the Marshall Half-Marathon. Marian Pyles, his wife and top training customer, claimed the women's 5th place spot with a time of 1:39:49.

Heather Parks (Saucony / of Bruceton Mills, WV earned the 1st place Women's West Virginian award and the 6th place women's spot with a time of 1:45:09. Megan Schuerger of South Charleston, WV took home 2nd in the women's WV category.

Andrew Ramell, also of Huntington like Pyles, earned the 1st place Men's West Virginian award and the 6th overall spot. Bryan Harvey (Leon, WV) took home 2nd.

Sixth Time is a Charm for Mutisya

CDR Photo by Don Parks
Gideon Mutisya claimed his 6th CDR title as first overall
Gideon Mutisya earned the CDR 15-mile course record in 1996 with a fast finishing time of 1:12:34. From Kenya and now residing in Hartford, Conn., the 41-year old lead this year's race after the first 3-miles and never looked back. He pumped up the hills like no one else could to win the top spot, a 6th overall title, and $1,100 with a time of 1:22:48.5.

His challengers, nearly half his age, remained close in the race for 2nd. Festus Cherus (Marietta, GA) and Bryan Morseman (Addison, NY) battled each other and the heat plus extreme humidity. Cherus (1:24:14) edged out Morseman, who hopes to qualify for the 2012 Olympic marathon. Morseman claimed a respectable 3rd with a 1:25:05.

Susan Gray (a 40-year old from Greencastle, PA) ran her fastest CDR time ever (having competed in the event 4 times) claiming the 2nd women's spot with a time of 1:36:50.9.

The fastest 15M teams for the day were all from Charleston, WV. The Co-ed team, B.A.D. Road Runners, topped the results with a time of 1:46:15. All male Team Kittens finished in 1:45:22, and Fox and Friends mens team claimed 3rd overall for the teams in 2:08:08.

5K Run Topped by Local Runners

Travis Epling (Huntington, WV) and David Caldwell (Dunbar, WV), kept a tight race. Epling sprinted a 2 minute lead to claim first (16:21). Jeremy Bartley of Covington VA finished 3rd.

Kristen Gumm of Lester, WV was the 1st woman finisher in the 5K run.

Afterwards, WOWK-13 News hosted the Awards Banquet at the Charleston Civic Center providing food and drink for the racers. Many enjoyed the weekend-long festivities at the annual Charleston Sternwheel Regatta down on the riverfront featuring live music, and carnival rides, a parade, and a hot air balloons night glow / lift-off, and Country Night featuring famous country music singer, Jo Dee Messina.

Editor's Note: The first death in the history of the race happened during the 5K run. Don Bird (age 66), of St. Albans, WV collapsed after finishing the 3.1 mile course. Paramedics rushed to the scene to attend to the fallen runner, but were unable to save him. Our sympathy goes out to the Bird family.