Winners qualify for Olympic Trials at Philadelphia Marathon
Dan Vassallo said the final goal in his running career was to qualify for the Olympic trials in the marathon.
The 29-year-old Peabody, Massachusetts resident has finally achieved that goal, with another twist. On a picture perfect day for running, Vassallo was the male winner in Sunday’s Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon, finishing the 26.2 mile race in two hours, 17 minutes and 28 seconds.
The qualifying time for the Olympic Trials is 2:18.00.
“I ran for the trials but winning was a pleasant byproduct of it,” Vassallo said.
Leonora Petrina, originally from New Zealand but now a U.S. citizen living in Long Island, won the women’s marathon. Like Vassallo, she also qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
She needed a time of 2:43 to qualify and finished in 2:40. Lauren Philbrook of State College, PA was second (2:42.06).
Unlike Vassallo, this was a new venture for the 32-year-old Petrina. It was her first ever marathon, although she had competed in half marathons
“I lost speed so I had to move up in distance,” she said, in explaining why she ran the marathon.
She fed off the crowd, of which organizers estimated to be about 60,000.
“They put on a great event here and the crowd was awesome, screaming and encouraging me along the way,” she said shortly after crossing the finish line at Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
While this was her first-ever marathon, Vassallo says he has run about eight marathons and he is certainly familiar with the routine.
In 2010 Vassallo was also the Philadelphia Marathon winner, in a time of 2:21.32. He said 2010 was a comeback year for him, coming off a sports hernia.
Since then he said he suffered various injuries related to running but says he has been healthy for the past year-and-half.
“This is an affirmation that my training is working and I have was capble of accomplishing the last goal (of the Olympic Trials),” said Vassallo, who called Philadelphia the "best sports town in America."
Vassallo said he had the lead past the midway point, lost it at around the 15-mile mark and regained it at around 25-and-half miles.
“For me it was all about maintaining a pace to be a trails qualifier and then runners stopped dropping behind me,” he said.
The top prize for the marathon for males and females was $3,500 and for the half marathon was $2,500.
Kiprono Kurgat of Kenya who trains in Chapel Hill, North Carolina won the half marathon in a time of 1:03.59. His friend and training partner Kimutai Cheryivot finished second.
“I felt good. The last time I was here it was cold and this was good weather to run in,” Kurgat said.
Kurgat previously competed in the 2012 Philadelphia half marathon, where he finished in fourth place in a time of 1:04.37.
Etaferahu Temesgen, 25 of Ethopia, was the female half marathon winner in a time of 1:12.50.
Two Philadelphians, Gina Bartalocci and Kayli Hrdlicka placed sixth and seventh in the half marathon.