Philadelphia Marathon returns to the city following COVID hiatus

The 27th Philadelphia Marathon had great weather for runners and spectators.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The 27th Philadelphia Marathon had great weather for runners and spectators.

"Running is back in Philly," said Kathleen Titus, the 2021 Philadelphia Marathon Weekend race director.

The men's champion, Mike Chesire, from Kenya, finished the race with a record breaking number 2:13:27.

"It's a win, so good, I'm really happy about it. I was never thinking that I was going to win," said Chesire.

The women's champion, Leslie Sexton, also shattered the record. Her time was 2:28:34.

While there were a limited number of spectators this year with COVID precautions, runners said their cheers kept them going.

"It makes a huge difference, you can't stop when there are people watching," said Katrina Waverin of Crofton, Maryland.

Spectators were happy to be back.

"We couldn't do it last year, so it's better than what it was. This is awesome" said Phil Gilmore, from Wayne.

In total, there were around 21,000 runners for Philadelphia Marathon Weekend. The half marathon was Saturday and the full Sunday. Some did both.

"I feel great honestly the half (marathon) was more of a warmup for the full," said Michelle Wheeler, from Denton, Texas, who won first place in the wheelchair category.

Many said it felt like a return to normalcy after the marathon took a hiatus because of COVID last year.

"It's great to be back racing in Philadelphia, you know to see those crowds on the Parkway, the energy, the excitement it's a great way to start off the holiday season," said Dave Wilson, deputy managing director for general services, arts, and events for the City of Philadelphia.

Many ran despite setbacks.

"I'm dealing with physical issues. I had a hip replacement recently," said Mark Sullivan, who has run every Philadelphia Marathon.

Diane Berberian, who is battling cancer, said the city gave her strength.

"The inspiration was Philadelphia, you know I'm born and raised here," said Berberian.

Many had plans to celebrate after.

"Well I wanted to climb the Rocky Steps, but my legs aren't working super well now, just grabbing a beer. I like trying different IPAs in different cities," said Leslie Sexton, the Women's champion, adding she planned on getting a Philly cheesesteak for lunch.
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