Marathon and Half Marathon Records Shattered in Philadelphia Races

By David Block

PHILADELPHIA, PA, NOVEMBER 20-21, 2021—The AACR Philadelphia Marathon, the Dietz and  Watson Philadelphia Half Marathon and the Rothman Orthopedic 8K returned after a one-year hiatus. COVID-19 prevented these races from taking place last year, but the pandemic failed to keep runners from training hard. A key example was that three elite runners set new course records.

Both the men’s and women’s marathon course records fell this year along with the women’s course record in the half marathon.

Mike Chesire of Kenya set a new marathon course record, 2:13:28, and left the city $11,500 richer. He received $10,000 for winning and a $1,500 bonus for setting a new record. (Tadesse Dabi held the previous Philadelphia Marathon record, 2:14:47, which he set in 2018.)

Mike Chesire and Jose Mauricio Gonzalez of Columbia ran together, hitting the 13.1 mile mark in 1:06:18. Soon thereafter, Gonzalez dropped out of the race with an injury.

Philadelphia resident Dylan Gearinger moved up and caught Chesire in Manayunk and went ahead. At times, he had more than a 100-meter lead. He continued to run faster. “I was definitely pushing the pace and that did not pay off,” said Gearinger. “I had a feeling I wouldn’t lead the rest of the way.”

Chesire passed him at 22 miles without resistance. “I knew I was done,” said Gearinger. He finished second, posting 2:14:55. He collected $6,000 – $5,000 for finishing second and $1,000 more for being the first male Philadelphia resident to finish.

Gearinger worried that he was going to finish third. For the last four miles, he asked his friends who were cheering from the sidelines, if any runner was near him. He had nothing to fear because he beat the third finisher by more than two minutes. When he finished, he passed out for a short while. “I had nothing left,” Gearinger said.

This was Gearinger’s second marathon. He ran his first marathon—the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon—this past October 10. To his surprise, he finished first, with a 2:20:22 posting. “I then decided to run the Philadelphia Marathon because I recovered quickly from Mohawk,” said Gearinger.

After Chesire grabbed the lead at the 22-mile mark, he was confident about winning because nobody challenged him. “I felt strong,” said Chesire.

The third place crown went to Donald Cowart, 2:17:24.  He collected the third place purse of $2,500.

The Philadelphia Marathon women’s record also fell as Canada’s Leslie Sexton crossed the finish line in 2:28:35. (Feyne Gemeda held the previous record of 2:32:49, which she set in 2019.)  “I never broke 2:30 before,” said Sexton. “That was my goal…I grabbed the lead early. At 25 miles, I was hurting; I was super tired.  I knew I had a decent lead, so I just tried to finish as hard as I could.”

Finishing second was Lexie Thompson of South Weber, Utah in 2:30:37. This was her first marathon.

Saturday’s Events, Half Marathon and 8K

Vicoty Chepngeno set a new course record, 1:07:22, in the women’s half-marathon.  She held the previous course record, 1:09:08, which she set in 2019.

In the half-marathon men’s field, the 2019 champion, James Ngandu successfully defended his title as he crossed the finish line in 1:04:16. He was well off the course record of 1:02:14, which he set in 2019.

This year was a different story. Until the last 200 meters of the half-marathon, Ngandu ran with Shadrack Keter, who finished second, 1:04:17. Also in that lead pack were third place finisher Tsegay Tuemay Weldlibanos, 1:04:20, and fourth place finisher, Sila Kiptoo, 1:04:21.

Until the final 200 meters, none of the four surged ahead; Ngandu chose to run a more conservative race this year. I wasn’t sure I was going to win,” said Ngandu, “because I was with three strong runners and my last two miles I was slow. I was tired. This year, all I wanted to do was to defend my title.”

Susanna Sullivan of Washington, DC was the first women’s finisher in the Rothman Orthopedic 8K. She crossed the finish line in 25:47 to collect the winner’s purse of $1,000.

Finishing second was Eilish Flanagan of Ireland, 26:07, to collect the runner-up share of $500.

Sullivan had no idea that Flanagan was keeping up with her until the two-mile mark. “I knew that winning wasn’t going to be easy,” said Sullivan. “We were running at a five [minute] flat pace.”

Sullivan held her off because she kept surging ahead. “I had a lot of strength to keep doing that,” said Sullivan. “That’s how I held her off.”

Mohamed Hrezi of Philadelphia was the first male 8K finisher. He clocked 23:36. 

Colin Leak (front left), David Block (2nd row right) on press truck.

Categories: Race Coverage

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