Monument Avenue 10K a success

Richmond, VA (WWBT)- The 13th annual Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k went off with a bang Saturday morning with more than 40,600 participants. A light drizzle fell for a good part of the morning, but that did not discourage runners and spectators from flocking to the race.

Ethiopia's Mengistu Nebsi beat out returning champion Julius Kogo for first place with a time of 28:33. Kogo clocked in at 28:42, which was nearly 20 seconds faster than his 2011 time of 29:02. Benson Cheruiyot of Kenya captured third place with a time of 29:09.

On the women's side, Melisa Mejdoub of Morocco was the top overall  finisher with a time of 33:07. Following closely behind her were Hellen Jemutai, who also ran 33:07, but was nipped by Mejdoub at the line.  Charlottesville's Rachel Ward captured third place with a time of 33:22.

Although Nebsi and Mejdoub finished atop the standings, leading the pack today was AT&T Dash for the Cash contestant Melissa Phillips, a 26-year old Richmond resident. Phillips was selected at random from over 28,000 people registered for the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k on February 1, and was given a 2.27-mile head start based on her past race results. She took home the $2,500 prize after beating out the elite runners to the finish line by only 27 seconds. This is the fifth year in a row that the AT&T Dash for the Cash contestant claimed the prize.

Prize money was also awarded to the top three males and females that live and train in the Richmond area. Andrew Benford (30:41), Charlie Hurt (31:14) and Jon Molz (31:28) were atop the local finishers on the men's side, while Maria Elena Calle (34:19), Julie Rechel (35:19) and Jenn Ennis (38:19) took home the prize money on the women's side.

In addition to the 40,638 10k participants, 1,857 children ages 5-12 participating in the Kids Run.

Thirty-five bands performed today along the 6.2-mile course, providing entertainment to all in attendance. An all-time record of 24 spirit groups rallied participants with cheers and encouragement through Hirschler Fleischer's spirit contest. And, a total of 149 individuals ran in costume for the Richmond Times-Dispatch Dress Up & Run contest.

Several members of the NBC12 staff participated in the race, including Curt Autry, Matt Lincoln, Tara Morgan and Tayleigh Davis.

Next year's Monument Avenue 10K will be held on April 13, with registration opening on December 1 of this year.

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