Dan Vassallo said the final goal in his running career was to qualify for the Olympic trials in the marathon.
The 29-year-old resident of Peabody, Mass., finally achieved that goal with a bonus. On a picture-perfect day for running, Vassallo was the winner Sunday in the Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon, finishing the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours, 17 minutes, and 27.8 seconds.
The qualifying time for the Olympic trials is 2:18:00.
"I ran for the trials, but winning was a pleasant by-product of it," Vassallo said.
Birhanu Dare Kemal, who trains in New York, was second in 2:17:51.85.
Leonora Petrina, originally from New Zealand but now a U.S. citizen living on Long Island, won the women's marathon. Like Vassallo, she also qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials. She needed a time of 2:43 to to do so, and finished in 2:39:59.02.
Lauren Philbrook of State College, Pa., was second in 2:42:05.19.
This was a new venture for the 32-year-old Petrina, unlike Vassallo. It was her first marathon, although she had competed in half marathons.
"I lost speed, so I had to move up in distance," she said, explaining why she ran the marathon. Petrina fed off the crowd, estimated by organizers at about 60,000.
"They put on a great event here, and the crowd was awesome, screaming and encouraging me along the way," Petrina said shortly after crossing the finish line on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Vassallo said he has run about eight marathons, and he certainly is familiar with the routine.
Vassallo also won the Philadelphia Marathon in 2010 in 2:21:28. He said 2010 was a comeback year for him after returning from a sports hernia.
Since then, he said, he has suffered various injuries related to running but has been healthy for the last year and a half.
"This is an affirmation that my training is working and I was capable of accomplishing the last goal [the Olympic trials]," said Vassallo, who called Philadelphia the "best sports town in America."
Vassallo said he had the lead past the midway point, lost it at about the 15-mile mark, and regained it at about 251/2 miles.
The top prize for the marathon for males and females was $3,500. The half-marathon winners took home $2,500.
Kiprono Kurgat, 25, of Kenya, who trains in Chapel Hill, N.C., won the half marathon in 1:03:58.7. His friend and training partner Kimutai Cheruiyot finished second.
"I felt good. The last time I was here it was cold, and this was good weather to run in," Kurgat said.
Kurgat previously competed in the 2012 Philadelphia half marathon, finishing fourth in 1:04:36.95.
Etaferahu Temesgen, 25, of Ethiopia, was the female half-marathon winner in 1:12:49.08.