While he’s not on par with, say, local heroes Terry Bradshaw or Mario Lemieux, James Kirwa is becoming something of a legend in the Steel City. Yesterday, May 5, the Kenyan runner won the 2013 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, breaking the tape for the second year in a row with an unofficial time of 2:13:37.
It wasn’t a course record, but Kirwa did reach the Boulevard of the Allies—the finish line of the 26.2-mile course—slightly faster than he did last year, when he clocked in with 2:14:09.
"This year, I knew the course, so I was like, 'Okay, let me do it,'" Kirwa told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, explaining how he became the race’s first back-to-back winner since 2009, when the event returned after a brief hiatus.
Rounding out the top three were Kirwa’s fellow Kenyans Stephen Njoroge and Jonathan Kibet, who came in at 2:14:10 and 2:17:29, respectively.
On the women’s side, Nigerian-born Mary Akor, who lives in California and is an American citizen, claimed the victory in an unofficial time of 2:37:35. She collapsed after the finish, but she’d recovered by the time of the awards presentation.
“I put a surge on [leader] Hirut [Guangul] at 23 miles on the downhill and never let up,” Akor said, according to the Post-Gazette. "I was determined to run hard and die at the end if need be.”
Guangul, of Ethiopia, finished second with an unofficial time of 2:38:05, and right behind her was her compatriot Yihunilish Bekele Dele, who crossed at 2:41:30.
Following these leaders were the rest of the 22,700 participants—the most ever in the Pittsburgh Marathon, the AP reports. The race kicked off at 7:00 a.m., and—especially heartening given the safety concerns following last month’s Boston Marathon bombings—police and race officials declared the event a success.