Mekuriya, Alexandrova Win 20th Philadelphia Marathon

David Block
November 17, 2013

The Philadelphia Half Marathon and Rothman Institute 8K resulted in shattered course records and repeats

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 17, 2013) - Abebe Mekuriya, 30, arrived in the U.S.  from Ethiopia five days ago for the first time in his life. His first race on U.S. soil was the 20th running of the GORE-TEX ® Philadelphia Marathon.

On a brisk fall day with perfect racing conditions, a crowd of more than 60,000 that lined the race course to cheer on the field of 30,000 registered participants.
Mekuriya's time of two hours, 17 minutes, 35 seconds easily won the race to collect $3,500. Finishing in second place was 29-year-old Tesfaye Dube, running 2:18:15 to collect $2,000.

“At 16 miles, I was confident {about winning the marathon} said Mekuriya through a translator, fifth place marathon finisher Abiyot Endale. And Mekuriya was right.
After hitting 18 miles in 1:35:16 on Kelly Drive north of the East Falls Bridge, Mekuriya surged ahead without anyone responding. When he hit 19 miles at 1:40:26 on Main Street and Manayunk, his lead lengthened to about 100 yards.
Endale said that he could no longer see Mekuriya at 20 miles. Mekuriya’s 20-mile split was 1:45:30 at Main Street & Grape in Manayunk. At the 22-mile mark at Midvale & Kelly Drive, Mekuriya had a 200 yard lead as his split read 1:55:32.
“I did not read my splits,” said Mekuriya through Endale, adding that he was feeling strong and in good shape.
In the women’s marathon, Russian runner Irina Alexandrova, 33, who trains in Kentucky, won 2:39:06 to collect $3,500. Runner-up Tezeta Dengersa, 33, clocked 2:40:13 to earn the second place purse of $2,000.
Alexandrova  ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon last year, where she finished 11th with a 1:17:47 posting.
“She {Alexandrova} is in much better shape this year,” said her agent, Larisa Mikhaylova, who attributed Alexandrova’s improved conditioning to doing more speed work. “Nobody was really coaching her last year. This year she’s being coached.”
“I was confident I could win today,” said Alexandrova through Mikhaylova. Mikhaylova added that Alexandrova will go home to Russia tomorrow (November 18) to rest. “Her season is over.”

The Philadelphia Half Marathon and Rothman Institute 8K resulted in shattered course records and repeats.

On Saturday, November 16, Kenyan born Elijah Karanja, 32, who trains in Hebron, Kentucky, won the Rothman Institute 8K in 23:02 and the next day he won the Philadelphia Half Marathon, 1:02:59. He collected $1,000 for winning the 8K and $2,500 for winning the half-marathon. Diriba Yigezu earned $500 for his second place finish in the 8K and $1000 for his second place finish in the half-marathon.

The lead half-marathon pack started slow. They hit the 2-mile mark 10:04 at 3rd & Race Street. “Nobody wanted to push the pace,” said Karanja. He said that everyone was waiting and seeing what the others would do.

The lead pack eventually sped up, as they hit the 7-mile split 31:33 at 30th and Chestnut St.

By 11 miles on the Martin Luther King Drive, Karanja felt confident he could win the half-marathon. “I was feeling strong,” he said in broken English. He did not see his 52:56 split. He pulled away unchallenged. At the 12-mile mark on Kelly Drive near the Girard Avenue Bridge, his split read 57:42. He was by himself and had no doubt that the race was his.

Karanja said that it was tougher for him to win the half-marathon than the 8K because he initially thought that the field would be more competitive. He said that he was not tired from the 8K. At a glance it looked as though the 8K was a tougher challenge because he won by one second. “We were both running (the 8K) very fast, but I was one step ahead,” said Karanja. That edge gave him the confidence to win.

In the women’s field, Rkia El-Moukim, 25, easily won both the 8K, 25:29 and the half-marathon 1:10:53. Both of her winning times were new course records.

Misiker Demissie set the previous half-marathon course record last year in 2013, 1:11:56, while the former 8K course record of 25:37 set by Svetlana Zakharova back in 2001, stood untouched for 12 years.

El-Moukim earned a total of $5,000: $1,000 for winning the 8K and $500 for setting a new course record; $2,500 for winning the half-marathon and $1,000 for a new course record. She hails from Morocco and trains in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

According to her coach Hicham El-Mohtadi, El-Moukim runs between 80 to 90 miles a week in Valley Forge. “She did not expect to set a new course record (in the 8K),” said El-Mohtadi, because the roads were slick because of rain.” It rained several hours before the 8K. Although the rain stopped by the time the race started, the roads were still wet. “After 3K she was able to push it,” said her coach.

El-Moukim’s coach had no objection to her racing two days in a row. “She’s in very good condition,” he said. “We weren’t sure if she was going to win (the half-marathon) but she felt good had a good night's rest.”

In the half-marathon, El-Moukim won by two minutes and six seconds as runner-up Adrienne Herzog, 28, finished in 1:12:59.
By six miles, El-Moukim found herself running alone and ahead of the other women. “I was happy,” said said.

20th GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon, Half-Marathon

Philadelphia, PA, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013

Men’s Marathon

1. Abebe Mekuriya, 30, 2:17:35 ($3,500)

2. Tesfaye Dube, 29, 2:18:15 ($2,000)

3. Nicholas Hilton, 24, 2:19:36 ($1,000)

4. Birhanu Mekonnen, 27, 2:19:59 ($750)

5. Abiyot Endale, 27, 2:20:55 ($500)

First Male Master

Jae Yung Hyung, 42, 2:24:40 ($1,000)

Women's Marathon

1. Irina Alexandrova, 33, 2:39:06 ($3,500)

2. Tezeta Dengersa, 33, 2:40:13 ($2,000)

3. Meseret Basa, 25, 2:40:51 ($1,000)

4. Aregash Abate, 22, 2:42:41 ($750)

5. Amanda Marino, 24, 2:43:57 ($500)

First Female Master

Mary Pardi, 43, 2:53:39 ($1,000)

Half Marathon Men

1. Elijah Karanja, 32, 1:02:59 ($3,500 total)

2. Diriba Yigezu, 25, 1:03:23 ($1,500 total)

3. Jordan Chipangama, 25, 1:03:28 ($500)

4. Yonas Mebrahtu, 25, 1:03:53 ($350)

5. Henry Rutto, 31, 1:04:10 ($500 total - $250 for finishing 5th in the half-marathon and $250 for finishing third in the 8K)

First Male Master

Eric Shafer, 44, 1:13:21 ($500)

Women's Half Marathon

1. Rkia El-Moukim, 25, 1:10:53 ($5,000 total)

2. Adrienne Herzog, 28, 1:12:59 ($1,000)

3. Jane Murage, 26, 1:12:59 ($750 total; $500 for finishing third in the half-marathon and $250 for finishing third in the 8K)

4. Ingrid Mollenkopf, 24, 1:13:04 ($350)

5. Allison Mendez, 25, 1:13:47 ($250)

First Female Master

Vicky Jasparro, 40, 1:25:24 ($500)

Rothman Institute 8K


1. Elijah Karanja, 32, 23:02 ($3,500 total)

2. Diriba Yigezu, 25, 23:03 ($1,500 total)

3. Henry Rutto, 31, 23:10 ($500 total)

4. Gian-Paul Caccia, 27, 23:12 ($150)

5. Joshua Izewski, 23, 23:18 ($100)

First Male Master

Kristian Blaich, 47, 26:15 ($250)


1. Rkia El-Moukim, 25, ($5,000 total)

2. Amy Van Alstine, 26, 25:55 ($500)

3. Jane Murage, 26, 26:29 ($250)

4. Askale Merachi, 26, 26:51 ($150)

5. Cynthia Jerop, 18, 27:18 ($100)

First Woman Master

Leslie Hoey, 44, 30:07 ($250)

Find full results at


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