RUNNERS FROM all over the world came to race through the city in the Philadelphia Marathon, but in the end, a local runner was the first to cross the finish line.
Mike McKeeman, of Ardmore, won the Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 17 minutes and 51 seconds, the second best time in the 19-year history of the marathon. Joseph Nderitu set the record in 2003 by completing the course in 2 hours, 16 minutes and 47 seconds.
"I was just so happy; it's something I've envisioned a lot of times," McKeeman said. "It's something that gets you through the long, hard runs and the training runs as you picture yourself doing something like this. A lot of my runs, I picture myself crossing the line first, but as much as you picture it, it's so hard to do. Only one person gets to win, so to actually know it was going to happen was really exciting."
While McKeeman finished well before second-place finisher Scott MacPherson (2:18.33), of Austin, Texas, the North Penn High graduate didn't want to take anything for granted after finishing second with the same time in 2006.
"I'm excited," McKeeman said. "It's just a culmination of a lot of hard work and this has been a goal for me for 6 years to come back and win. About 22 miles in the race, I thought I was going to get second again, there was a guy pulling away from me and I was pretty much resigned to the fact that I was going to be second again, and then I somehow was just able to get back on to him. Once I caught him again, I didn't want to stick too close to him at that point, I just wanted to go right by him and hope that he would just disappear.
"I was so tired. A lot of times, when you take the lead like that, you feel good, but this was more that I passed him and was just hoping that I could finish. I just kept thinking, 'I need to run for 15 more minutes.' "
While MacPherson kept the pace with McKeeman and the leading pack, it wasn't enough to edge out a victory in front of the Art Museum.
"He made a bit of a push at mile 23 and that's when I was just trying to maintain my pace," MacPherson said. "I wanted to pick it up, but at that point in the marathon, you can't really surge too much. He did great, I was going after him but he held it off."
Growing up around the city made it that much more special when McKeeman crossed the finish line to resounding applause from the crowd.
"It's a really important thing," McKeeman said. "It's one of the reasons I chose to run here this fall, instead of going to Chicago or New York. It was important for me to win here because I grew up in this area, lived in this area most of my life and a lot of course is the areas that I run a lot. I think it's really special. Winning the race here means more to me than if I won a race somewhere else."
A year after Mariska Kramer broke the women's marathon record, Russian Irina Mashkantceva put another time in the record books by finishing with a time of 2 hours, 35 minutes and 37 seconds. Mashkantceva beat the record by 11 seconds.