HENRY RUTTO started as one of the 40,000 runners at Broad and Somerville streets, but by the time he got to Temple University, he was all by himself.
"I knew I was going to have a tough race, but at 3 miles I was all alone," Rutto said. "It was so nice."
Rutto got out to a quick lead and never looked back as he won the men's race at the 33rd annual Blue Cross Broad Street Run. If it wasn't for the crowds and cameras, Rutto would have looked like a man just taking in the sights while jogging down Broad Street, occasionally waving to the scattered crowds along the race route. Rutto, a 29-year-old from the Rift Valley Province in Kenya, saw a man in a Mummers costume, various bands, Temple's mascot "Hooter" and other city sights in his first race in the United States. He had previously raced in Italy, Germany and Slovenia.
"[The crowds] really helped me to push on and on, I really liked the crowd with the music along the way," Rutto said.
Rutto made it look easy with a winning time of 47 minutes, 6 seconds, which was 1:37 ahead of runner-up Birhanu Feyissa Alemu, who finished with a time of 48:43. He credited the straight course and the slightly cool and overcast weather.
"I'm used to weather conditions like this back in Kenya, so it was really good," Rutto said.
Unlike Rutto, the women's winner, Esther Erb, was no stranger to the race. She had competed in the Broad Street Run last year and finished in fourth place. This year, she finished in first with a time of 55:28, ahead of runner-up Askale Merachi, who finished with a time of 55:53.
Erb, a North Carolina native, keeps coming back to the Broad Street Run to see her sister, who is a former Temple Tyler School of Art student who has lived in the city for 10 years.
"I think [racing the previous year] helped a little bit, knowing where the finish was is nice because you think you're done and then you think you're done and then you're done," Erb said.
In college, Erb was a standout distance runner at Case Western University, where she won the 2008 Division III championship in the 10,000-meter event.
Erb currently races with her team, Zap Fitness as she trains for a potential spot in the 2012 Olympic Games. In January, she placed 27th in the Olympic marathon trials in Houston. While racing with the team, Erb said it can be hard to win as individual.
"Coming from a team where I'm the slowest of three, it's tough to win races," Erb said.
Both Rutto and Erb said they enjoyed their time in Philly and look to return for next year's race.
"I haven't won a race of this size since ever," Erb said. "The press car could probably see that I was smiling the whole way."