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Local Michael McKeeman wins Philadelphia Marathon

It was a true Philadelphia story, accomplished not far from where the one of the city's favorite characters, Rocky Balboa, made a famous run up the Art Museum steps.

See all of our coverage of this year's Philly Marathon at

It was a true Philadelphia story, accomplished not far from where the one of the city's favorite characters, Rocky Balboa, made a famous run up the Art Museum steps.

Michael McKeeman, with his career admittedly winding down, wanted to not only compete but win a race of endurance that practically takes place in his own back yard.

So he did.

McKeeman was the winner on Sunday of the Philadelphia Marathon, a true home victory for this 36-year-old Ardmore resident.

With 28,500 runners competing in the Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon, the story of McKeeman couldn't be more contrasting from that of the women's marathon winner.

That was 29-year-old Irina Mashkantceva, whose journey to the race was slightly longer than McKeeman taking the Schuylkill Expressway from Ardmore. Mashkantceva hails from Solikamsk, Russia.

McKeeman's winning time of 2 hours, 17 minutes, 47 seconds in the 26.2-mile event wasn't near the record of 2:16.47 set in 2003. But McKeeman ran by himself as he approached the finish line along Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Scott Macpherson of Austin Texas was second in 2:18.30.

So, as McKeeman ran that final 100 meters, many thoughts were going through his mind. And, as he crossed the finish line, he felt the euphoria of finishing one spot higher in his second Philadelphia Marathon than he did in his first, when he placed second in 2006.

"My motivation was to try to win this in my hometown," said McKeeman, who attended North Penn High School and the University of North Carolina. "There is a chance that this is my last marathon, so I wanted to go out on a high note and try to do something in the area in which I grew up."

McKeeman is at the age when making the commitment to be an accomplished runner is often difficult, so he ran with even more urgency.

"It may be time to focus on other things and be a little less focused on running," he said.

He gained the lead at the 23-mile mark and didn't relinquish it.

"I was so tired, and when you take a lead like that you usually feel good," he said. "This was more, I passed him, and I was hoping I was going to finish."

His one thought at 23 miles?

"I kept thinking I need to run 15 more minutes," he said.

McKeeman even admitted to having the home course advantage, but he wasn't apologizing. Many of his practice runs were along the course.

"I was very familiar with the course, and I think it was an advantage," he said. "I ran so many hard runs here and know where all the turns are, where the wind picks up."

Then again, familiarity isn't a necessity.

Mashkantceva seemed to be able to find her way despite running in Philadelphia for the first time. Her winning time of 2:35.34 in this 19th annual marathon broke the mark of 2:35.46 set last year by Mariska Kramer, who didn't compete this year.

Mashkantceva also ran a personal best time. Her previous best was 2:38.05.

"This is really exciting," she said through an interpreter. "I really trained hard for this."

Mashkantceva said she loved the course and the hospitality of the people in Philadelphia.

When asked if he would return, Mashkantceva answered, "If they will have me back," she said.