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Thousands turn out for Pittsburgh Marathon

| Sunday, May 4, 2014, 6:54 a.m.

Ethiopian Gebo Burka and Greene County's Clara Santucci won the sixth revival of the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday.

Burka's unofficial time was 2:16:30, while Santucci, of Dilliner, near the West Virginia line, finished with a time of 2:32:23.

Santucci, 27, was one of the favorites to win the Pittsburgh race. She finished third among American women in the 2011 Boston Marathon, and last year was the top American woman at the Chicago Marathon.

Thousands of runners filled city streets on Sunday for the 26.2-mile marathon, a half marathon and relay teams.

Burka, 26, was alone in front from the midpoint, but failed to set a new record. The course record is 2:10:24 set in 1995 by two-time defending champion James Kirwa. Burka's personal record is 2:10:18.

The marathon featured an expected 30,000 runners that included 3,531 charity runners. The event has raised $5 million for charity since 2009. The event also included 4,000 volunteers, more than 70 bands and 13 neighborhood spectator zones.

Here's a running account:

7:09 a.m. — And they're off.

7:15 a.m. — Lead pack passed Mike Bruno, running blindfolded, in the Strip.

7:15 a.m. — Runners crossing the first bridge approaching Mile 3 and huge mass of runners heading down Liberty Avenue near Mile 1.

7:30 a.m. — Some of signs along the route: “You run better than our government,” “It was hard making this sign, too,” and “It's too early for this.”

7:33 a.m. — Weather is overcast, cool with light drizzle. Otherwise perfect running weather.

7:34 a.m. — Still sending waves of runners from the starting line.

7:40 a.m. — Lead pack of three runners at Mile 8. Flying.

7:48 a.m. — Shirts tossed by runners along Liberty Avenue will be donated to charity.

7:55 a.m. — Lead pace car dead in the road on Carson Street. Did someone forget to fill up?

8:00 a.m. — Los Angeles Marathon winner Gebo Burka is alone in front heading up Forbes Avenue at Mile 12 mark.

8:03 a.m. — First runner crosses finish line for half-marathon!

8:07 a.m. — Burka just passed the midpoint marathon at 1:05:37. Course record is 2:10:24 set in 1995.

8:10 a.m. — Sprint to the finish in half marathon, with Habtamu Assefa of Ethiopia the unofficial winner in 1:02.45. Assefa beat Kenyan Emmanuel Bor, who finished in 1:02.47.

8:23 a.m. — Half marathon female winner is Sophy Jepchirchir, at unofficial course record, 1:11:38.

8:25 a.m. — The first hand cyclists cross the finish line.

8:30 a.m. — Marathon now in Homewood and after Burka the No. 2 runner isn't in sight.

8:37 a.m. — More fun signs from the race: “Run faster! The Kenyans are drinking all your IC Light!”

8:43 a.m. — Burka is slowing down. Last mile was 5:29 at Mile 20, and we can now see a runner about a minute back. Could be a race yet.

8:57 a.m. — In Bloomfield, Burka still alone in front. Bus with reporters about to take off and speed through rest of course to get ready for the finish.

8:59 a.m. — Dr. Ron Roth says just one person transported for medical attention to UPMC Presbyterian with unknown problem. Race going smoothly.

9:21 a.m. — Burka wins the Pittsburgh Marathon with unofficial time of 2:16:30.

The race has $40,500 in prizes, including an $8,000 purse for the winner.

The sports day promised to be busy. The marathon will be followed by the Pirates playing host to the Toronto Blue Jays at 1:35 p.m. at PNC Park and the Penguins playing the N.Y. Rangers in Game 2 of their Stanley Cup playoffs second-round series at 7:30 p.m. at Consol Energy Center.

Trib Total Media staff writers Karen Price and Bill Vidonic contributed. Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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