WHEELING — Through the first third of the 34th Annual Ogden 20K Classic Run, Taylorstown, Pa.’s Jeff Weiss was enjoying the clean air.
Then, 29th Street Hill — and Ethiopians Ketema Nigusse and Bado Worku Merdessa — caught up to him.
Still, Weiss held off everyone else but Kenyan Richard Bett, not only finishing fourth overall at 1:04:10 but first among local runners.
That’s not bad, as Weiss, a veteran of the Debbie Green 5K — also run on the streets of Wheeling —was participating in his first Ogden 20K.
‘‘Considering the hillyness of this course, I was very happy (with my time),’’ Weiss said. ‘‘Coming in, I knew the course was hard. People had told me about the hills and all of that. It was probably the toughest course I’ve run and it was a 20K, which is a pretty long race.’’
It wasn’t unusual to see Weiss out in front in the beginning, as he did the same thing for the first mile or so last August in the Debbie Green before being overtaken by Demesse Tefera and Daniel Kipkoech.
Still, Weiss isn’t used to losing.
He ran cross country and track at Slippery Rock University and was a four-time All-American in the former and three-time All-American in the latter.
In high school at McGuffey, he was a Pennsylvannia state champion in the 2-mile.
It’s unlikely he was up against guys like Nigusse and Merdessa, though.
‘‘Once we went up that really big hill, they came up by my side, they passed me up. From there, they maintained,’’ Weiss said. ‘‘The top two guys were neck and neck the entire time.’’
Weiss’ time would have been good enough to win last year’s race by 2 minutes and 33 seconds.
‘‘I think this year was a fast year for some reason,’’ he said.