Runners hit city streets for Pittsburgh Marathon

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PITTSBURGH —

More than 23,000 runners took over Pittsburgh streets for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday morning.

Participants in the marathon, UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon and FedEx Ground Pittsburgh Marathon Relay left the starting line at Liberty and Seventh avenues about 7 a.m.

The marathon and relay course took runners through 13 neighborhoods, across each of the three rivers and onto the North Shore before crossing the finish line at the Boulevard of the Allies and Stanwix Street.

The winner of this year’s marathon, Gebo Burka, 26, of Ethiopia, completed the 26.2-mile race at about 9:16 a.m. with a time of 2:16:30.

Women’s marathon winner, Clara Santucci, 27, of Dilliner, Pa., finished with a time of 2:32:25. She became the first U.S. female champion since 2009. The Pittsburgh Marathon was her first career marathon victory.

Santucci and Yeshimebet Bifa, of Ethiopia, were neck and neck at the halfway point of the course. Santucci began to pull ahead at mile 20, ultimately finishing two minutes and 20 seconds before Bifa.

The half-marathon course took runners across the three rivers, through the South Side and across the Birmingham Bridge, leading up to the finish line downtown. Competitors began crossing the finish line at about 8 a.m.

Habtamu Assefa, 29, of Ethiopia, was the men’s half-marathon winner.

Sophy Jepchirchir, 20, of Kenya, was the winner of the women’s half-marathon. She finished in a record time of 1:11:37 -- 56 seconds faster than the previous record set in 2012.

Participants in this year’s race came from 49 states and 20 countries, and their motivations for running were just as diverse.

Lance Chapman ran for his brother-in-law, Billy Smith, who recently died from kidney disease.

Kyle Johnson was also remembered during Sunday’s race. The North Allegheny High School graduate died after going into cardiac arrest during last year’s marathon.

“We just miss him so much, and this was just a great way to show him that we are thinking about him, and we love him, and he really inspired us to do this,” said Laura Kim.

Kim ran with a group of Johnson’s family and friends in memory of the 23-year-old.

The Pittsburgh Marathon has grown considerably in recent years. Five years ago, about 10,500 people ran. This year, there were a total of 23,458 marathon and half-marathon entrants.

Related story: Family, friends to run marathon in honor of NA grad who died during last year's race