Boniface Kongin runs away with Pittsburgh Marathon title
Kenyan Boniface Kongin, competing in his second Pittsburgh Marathon, captured the men’s 26.2-mile race in 2 hours, 10 minutes and 34 seconds.
The 29-year-old crossed the finish line more than three minutes better than his nearest challenger.
“I didn’t finish last year. It was a bad day,” Kongin said. “So this is an amazing feeling. I got a (personal best), and the crowd out there was amazing. They kept me going. I am come back again next year, hopefully. I’m so happy.”
Ian Carter, 24, who trains out of Flagstaff, Ariz., was the top American finisher in sixth at 2:23:02. It was his first competitive marathon.
Ethiopia’s Bizuwork Getahun Kasaye, 29, raced to the top spot in the women’s full marathon in 2:36.29. She won by almost three minutes.
Christina Murphy, a 38-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, was the top American female. She was fourth overall in 2:46:07.
Murphy took third in her previous Pittsburgh Marathon in 2015. That year, Clara Santucci won in 2:34:06.
“Pittsburgh is a great city and a great course,” said Murphy, a two-time winner of the Columbus Marathon whose personal best is 2:39:15. “I looked forward to coming back.
“I struggled a little bit on the back half. I was hoping to contend for a top-three spot, and then by about the halfway spot, it became pretty obvious that I was going to be battling myself. But I got through it. I was glad. It worked out.”
The champions of the full marathons took home $8,000 apiece.
Pittsburgh’s Domos takes handcycle title
Attila Domos of Squirrel Hill and Ken Bestine of Clymer, N.Y., crossed the finish line together and clasped hands in a sign of friendship and good competition.
As far as place finishes are concerned, Domos’ cycle cross the line just ahead of Bestine’s in 1:27:21.
It marked Domos’ third win in his sixth race at Pittsburgh.
“I’m not going to sit here and beat my chest or anything because Kenneth could’ve won it just as easily as me,” he said. “I think I was six inches ahead of him.”
Holly Koester, 59, of Bedford, Ohio, captured the women’s handcycle title in 2:09:59.
Pittsburgh’s Ashli Molinero, 47, last year’s champion, placed third.
Matamoros cherishes final race weekend
Sunday’s races marked the finale for Patrice Matamoros as CEO and race director for Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc.
She is stepping away after 11 years in service to the yearly event that returned in 2009 after a five-year hiatus.
Matamoros said she was focused in the early hours Sunday and didn’t have an opportunity, at the time, to consider how emotional she would become when the event concluded.
“There are no emotions other than nervousness before you get the race off. You just want to get the race off,” said Matamoros, a Montana native who has called Pittsburgh home for 18 years.
The emotion flooded her face as morning turned to afternoon and she thought of the four-, five- and six-hour marathoners still pushing forward when most of the field had long since left the city.
“When I see them, it makes me tear up,” she said. “Just being a part of something that makes people happy is really great. It’s rewarding.”
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald declared Friday “Patrice Matamoros Day” in Allegheny County, and DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation presented an $11,000 donation in Matamoros’ honor to P3R’s Kids of Steel program.
By the numbers
The Pittsburgh Marathon, with its expansion from a single-day event to a multiple-day weekend of festivities, has grown in participants every year since it returned in 2009.
Over the past decade, from 2009 through last year, 52,723 took part in the full marathon with another 132,316 running the half.
The marathon relay also has been a popular option, with 45,423 participants and another 16,621 for the 5K run through 2018.
Nearly 15,000 registered for Sunday’s half marathon, and approximately 4,500 signed up for the full. Nearly 5,000 participants comprised 1,150 marathon relay teams.
Close to 70 percent of all race participants were local, with the remainder from 47 states, two U.S. territories and 23 countries.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-856-7400 x8632, [email protected] or via Twitter .