MONROVIA, Liberia — Prince Weah had no experience with distance-running when he signed up on a whim for a 10-kilometer race in Monrovia four years ago. Like many West African boys, he grew up with dreams of soccer stardom, though he quickly set those aside after unexpectedly placing first in the running event. On Sunday, 20-year-old Weah joined more than 1,000 other runners who took to the streets of this dilapidated seaside capital for the Liberia Marathon and 10-kilometer race, cheered on by hundreds of spectators lining the streets and even a military brass band. Star participant was President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Joined by U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac, Sirleaf donned jeans and sneakers and ran a short stretch of the 10-kilometer race, stopping early on when the course ran past her house. The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner has previously said that “praying for the other runners” is a more effective use of her time than trying to reach the finish line. In remarks to organizers two days before the marathon, Sirleaf described the symbolic importance of the race for a country still recovering from a brutal 14-year civil war in which 250,000 were killed. Liberia is celebrating 10 years of peace this month. “Liberia, too, is in a marathon, a race of sustained peace,” she said. “With victory, you will reap the dividends that come from being a nation at peace with itself. Our goal for Liberia is to get to the finish line, to be a winner.” While Sirleaf alluded to the past, many runners were looking to a future when West Africa might emerge as a force in the distance-running world. The marathon event is one of a few to have sprung […]