Yirefu Birhanu of Ethiopia and Lilya Shobukhova of Russia led home a record field of more than 13,300 runners and walkers at the 31st annual ING Philadelphia Distance Run (21).
Birhanu, 22, negotiated the 13.1 mile course through Philadelphia’s streets in a time of 61:22.
The men's pack turned south on to Kelly Drive after crossing the Schuylkill River over Falls Bridge, still tightly packed as they had been from the start of the race. With nine runners clustered in the lead pack as late as the 15k mark, the middle of the race was just as close as the finish.
Birhaun pulled away late barely edging fellow Ethiopians Terefu Zwedie who ran 1:01:23, while Girma Tola finished third in 1:01:26.
Kenyan McDonard Ondara came in fourth at 1:01:32. Kenya's Valentine Orare (1:01:37) and Boaz Cheboiywo (1:01:34) finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
"It feels really good to win, especially running a fast time," said Birhanu. "It was good to see a lot of fast times from the other runners, the flat course really helped me keep a rhythm."
On the women’s side, Shobukhova took the over during the last mile of the race on the way to her victory. With a time of 1:01:21, she beat reigning World Marathon champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, who finished second in 1:10:31. Fellow Kenyan Irene Limika took third in 1:10:50.
This was just the second marathon for Shobukhova, after finishing 5th in the 5000m race at the Beijing Olympics last month.
“It’s a very meaningful place for me,” Ndebera said. “I came here to run fast and I’m happy with my performance. I look forward to running in Philadelphia next year.”
The 13.1-mile city course started and finished at Eakins Oval, adjacent to Philadelphia Museum of Art, and made its way through downtown Philadelphia until looping back along Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the Schuylkill River.
Dan Cruz for the IAAF
1. Yirefu Birhanu, 22, Ethiopia, 1:01:22,
2. Terefu Zwedie, 25, Ethiopia, 1:01:23,
3. Girma Tola, 33, Ethiopia, 1:01:26,
4. McDonard Ondara, 23, Kenya, 1:01:32,
5. Valentine Orare, 25, Kenya, 1:01:33,
1. Liliya Shobukhova, 30, Russia, 1:10:21,
2. Catherine Ndereba, 26, Kenya, 1:10:31,
3. Irene Limika, 29, Kenya, 1:10:50,
4. Nriah Asiba, 27, Kenya, 1:10:58,
5. Aziza Ayilu, Ethiopia, 23, 1:11:06,