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Santucci, Burka Win Pittsburgh titles

Clara Santucci - Pittsburgh Marathon

At the 6th DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday morning, Clara Santucci of Dilliner, PA and Gebo Burka of Ethiopia won race titles in convincing fashion, clocking 2 hours, 32, minutes, 25 seconds and 2:16:30 respectively.

In the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon Kenyan Sophy Jepchirchir shattered the event record with her 1:11:37, while Ethiopian Hebtamu Assefa won a close race in 1:02:45. Under calm, overcast conditions with a light drizzle early, an event record 23,458 marathoners and half-marathoners and 1,250 FedEx Ground Pittsburgh Marathon Relay teams raced through downtown Pittsburgh and 13 neighborhoods.

“What a great day to run in the City of Champions! We had a record event field today and a new women’s half-marathon event record, and it was so exciting to see local runner Clara Santucci win the women’s marathon,” said Patrice Matamoros, race director of the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. “We thank our sponsors, all the Runners of STEEL, the spectators and the city for making this day and event so special.”

The women’s 26.2 mile race featured a back-and-forth duel between Santucci and Ethiopian Yeshimebet Bifa. The pair hit the halfway point as one in 1:16:47. They ran together until mile 20 when Santucci, 27, began to pull away and by mile 23 she had 35 seconds on Bifa. The West Virginia graduate continued to build her lead and cruised to the win by 2 minutes and 20 seconds over Bifa. Santucci, who became the race’s first U.S. female champion since 2009 (Kristen Price), also took home $15,000  ($8000 as race champion, $4500 as top American, $1500 for a 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying time and $1000 as top Pennsylvanian).

“Yeshimebet made a strong move right before the big bridge and hill and I knew it was coming up having run this course for training. I thought, ‘if you want to go, then go, I’ll save my energy.’ It means a lot to me to win close to home. The DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon is a growing race and the American Development Program is a great initiative. It was a great weekend; I love it and couldn’t ask for anything better,” stated an enthused Santucci, claiming her first career marathon victory.

In the men’s marathon, Burka, 26, took over the race after 11 miles as the 2014 ASICS LA Marathon winner rattled off low five minute miles to pull away from field. He later slowed in the final miles, but went unchallenged to the tape more than a minute ahead of runner-up and top American Fidele Jefferson of Flagstaff, AZ who finished in 2:17:37. Burka won $9000 overall.

Two-time defending men’s champion James Kirwa dropped out early in the race.

“It is a difficult course and I went out in 2:10-11 pace for a chance at the event record,” commented Burka after the race. “After 35 kilometers my stomach wasn’t feeling good and my hamstring was tight, so I slowed down to hope to still get the win.”

In the women’s half-marathon, Kenyan Sophy Jepchirchir went from the gun as the 20-year-old fronted the field and ran a solo race, averaging 5:28 per mile to the finish line in an event record 1:11:37. She shattered, by 56 seconds, the previous course record of 1:12:43 by Fatuma Sado (ETH) set in 2012.

The men’s half-marathon was also a duel with Habtamu Assefa of Ethiopia and Emmanuel Bor of Kenya battling each other until the home stretch before Assefa, 29, outkicked Bor, 1:02:45 to 1:02:46. Their times are the #2 and #3 all-time men’s performances at the event. First American was Christian Thompson of Wyncote, PA, who placed 7th in 1:05:55.

6th DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon
Pittsburgh, PA, Sunday, May 4, 2014

1) Gebo Burka (ETH), 2:16:30, $9000+
2) Fidele Jefferson (USA/AZ), 2:17:37, $12,000#
3) Tewodros Asfaw (ETH), 2:18:50, $4000
4) Takele Gebreliul (ETH), 2:19:26, $2500
5) Joseph Mutinda (KEN), 2:19:28, $1500
6) Negash Duki (ETH), 2:21:26, $1000
7) Tesfaye Dube (ETH), 2:22:15, $500
8) Jed Christiansen (USA/PA), 2:22:41, $3500*
+includes $1000 first Pennsylvanian
#includes U.S.-only money and 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying bonus
*U.S.-only money, part of the American Development Program

MASTERS MEN (40 and older)
1) James Hommes, 43, PA, 2:37:44, $1000

1) Clara Santucci (USA/PA), 2:32:25, $15,000+
2) Yeshimebet Bifa (ETH), 2:34:45, $6000
3) Meseret Basa (ETH), 2:40:41, $4000
4) Tezata Dengersa (ETH), 2:42:02, $2500
5) Jane Vongvorachoti (USA/NY), 2:44:51, $5500#
6) Aregash Gubae (ETH), 2:47:16, $1000
7) Mira Tuominen (FIN), 2:54:04, $500
+includes U.S.-only prize, 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying bonus and Pennsylvania resident prize money
#includes U.S.-only money and 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying bonus

MASTERS WOMEN (40 and older)
1) Kathleen Jobes, 44, PA, 2:54:47, $1000

6th UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon
1) Habtamu Assefa (ETH), 1:02:45, $6500
2) Emmanuel Bor (KEN), 1:02:46, $4000
3) Reuben Limaa (KEN), 1:03:36, $3000
4) Eliud Ngetich (KEN), 1:03:56, $2000
5) Diriba Degefa (ETH), 1:05:00, $1000
6) Amos Sang (KEN), 1:05:19, $500
7) Christian Thompson (USA/PA), 1:05:55, $250

1) Sophy Jepchirchir (KEN), 1:11:37*, $6500
2) Hirut Damte (ETH), 1:13:24, $4000
3) Heather Lieberg (USA/MT), 1:15:53, $3000
4) Sallie Ford (USA/FL), 1:17:32, $2000
5) Jennifer Bigham (USA/PA), 1:19:24, $1000
6) Milka Mejdoub (ETH), 1:21:21, $500
7) Elizabeth Perry (USA/PA), 1:21:32, $250
*course record (previous record, 1:12:43, Fatuma Sado (ETH), 05/06/12)

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