It was only last month when Mourad Marofit moved from New York to Philadelphia with some of his Moroccan countrymen to carry out their training at Wissahickon Valley Park. He fell in love with the park's scenery and tree-lined paths almost immediately.
Marofit found that same satisfaction Sunday on Broad Street, and despite a record field of 40,000 runners and thousands who lined Philadelphia's main thoroughfare, he turned it into his own solitary path, dominating the 35th annual Blue Cross Broad Street Run for a convincing 45-second victory.
Marofit, 32, who ran the 5,000 meters in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, overcame a bit of a headwind and finished in 47 minutes, 7 seconds.
Bertukan Feyisa Germame, 22, of Ethiopia, captured the women's race in 55:26.
Though Marofit's time was almost two minutes off the course record, it was good for a 45-second win over defending champion Ayele Megersa Feisa of Ethiopia on a sunny, cool day.
"The day was good today," Marofit said. "I liked it here. I'm happy. Thank you for the conditions. I'm very happy with the race today."
According to Hicham El Mohtadi, the representative for Marofit and his teammates, the team moved to Philadelphia and started training two weeks ago. Two runners, Abdelhadi El Mouaziz and Hicham Alaoui, finished fourth and sixth on Sunday.
"We're based in Roxborough," El Mohtadi said. "We have four or five elite runners from Morocco. They love it. They're training on the Wissahickon Park trails and they're very happy there. That's going to be our place when we're in the states."
Marofit, who trains twice a day at Wissahickon, said: "I like the park. It's really nice. It's big, the trails are wide."
Marofit turned Sunday's race, which began at the Central High School athletic field, into his own fairly quickly. After his opening mile of 4:45, he was in a pack of eight runners, and four more joined the group as they crossed over Roosevelt Boulevard.
But just that quickly, Marofit was gone. By the time he hit the two-mile marker at Tioga Street, he had a nine-second lead. He ran splits of 4:28 and 4:35 for miles 2 and 3 and extended his advantage to 15 seconds, and added to that later.
"He ran a good pace," El Mohtadi said. "He expected the other Moroccans to work with him. He's still wondering why they didn't come up with us."
Through an interpreter, Feisa, who won last year's race in 47:03, said that "the pace was too fast" and that he experienced some tightness in his hamstring that he called "no big problem."
Germame, running on Broad Street for the first time, dueled with countrywoman Tsehay Getiso for much of her race but opened up some ground at eight miles. She kicked in the final 300 meters to give her a 14-second margin at the Navy Yard finish.
Germame thought her time was "very slow" and added, "I liked the course, it was very nice" through an interpreter.
The top American finishers were Andrew Weaver, 23, of Newark, Del., eighth overall in 49:56, and Crystal Burnick, 25, of Collegeville, fourth in the women's competition in 58:31.
"My goal was to break 50 minutes, and I was right on the money with that, so I was pretty happy," said Weaver, who ran for Delaware until the track team was discontinued, and finished at Oklahoma. "I didn't know I was going to place so highly, but that sort of shook out, running my own race."
Burnick, a former Slippery Rock star, didn't believe that a personal-best time was possible because of the wind, so she went for a best finish, which she achieved in her third Broad Street Run.
"That made the most sense and I was pretty happy with that," she said. "This feels awesome."