AS MOURAD Marofit was approaching the finish line of the 35th annual Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run, he looked over his shoulder to realize he could stroll comfortably to victory with more than 41,000 runners behind him.
Once finishing the 10-mile race at the Navy Yard, the 32-year-old Moroccan native, a first-time participant, crashed to the ground with a cramp and exhaustion but was unable to hide the large, satisfied smile on his face after winning the men's division with a time of 47:07.
"He is really, really happy," said Marofit's representative, Hicam El Mohtadi. "He is grateful for the race organizers, the organization, the director of the race and all of the support he had during the race.
"You need to run at a fast pace to get a good time and that's exactly what he did. He expected the Moroccans to keep up with him and they did. He saw that they were still with him throughout the race so he increased his pace and kept his pace. He was looking back at the other Moroccans because another finalist took a fast pace in the beginning."
Also participating in the Broad Street Run for the first time was 23-year-old Andrew Weaver, who became the first American male to cross the finish line and the eighth overall finisher in the men's division. Weaver, a native of Newark, Del., and 2012 graduate of University of Delaware, finished the race with a time of 49:56.
"My goal was to break 50 minutes and I did that so I was happy," Weaver said. "I didn't think I was going to place so high. It feels pretty cool to be the first American to finish and I kind of backed into that.
"The first couple of miles were pretty fast so I had to hold it together after that and finish strong. Being up front, I didn't have too many people to run with and I really had to chase down people. It was a lot of solo running out there so that was difficult."
In the women's overall division, 22-year-old Bertukan Feyisa Germame crossed the finish line first with a time of 55:26. The Ethiopian runner who trains in New York finished with an average pace of 5:32 per mile but was still not satisfied with her time.
"The time was very slow but I am still happy that I won," Germame said. "I was challenged by my teammates and was glad to pull away with about 300 meters remaining."
For the third consecutive year, 25-year-old Crystal Burnick participated in the race. Yesterday, Burnick earned her best-ever finish, fourth overall in the women's division, and was the first American woman to cross the finish line in the Navy Yard. After a track and cross country collegiate career at Slippery Rock, Burnick was surprised to place as high as she did with a time of 58:31 - a year removed from a 56:59 finish.
"In the very beginning I knew I wasn't going for a personal best because it was very windy," Burnick said, who plans to use her prize money to pay for her car. "Last year we were lucky because it wasn't so windy, but I am still happy to finish where I did.
"I am just a competitive person in general and I knew I wanted to keep racing. I knew after college I wasn't done and I wanted to achieve greater things."
Finishing with a time of 55:52, Chelsea Crytzer won the women's wheelchair division while Tony Nogueira took home his 10th Broad Street Run title in the men's wheelchair division with a time of 38:09.
"This race is a really unique race and is so much fun to participate in," said Penn State Abington student Alex Kane, who finished with a time of 55:20 in the men's overall division. "With all of the sights you see and it being mostly a downhill course, it really is a good run to be a part of."