If you ever want to get 26.2 miles around the city of Philadelphia as quickly as possible, just hitch a ride with Abebe Mekuriya.
The 30-year-old Ethiopian distance runner won the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon with a time of 2:17:34.7, per the event's Twitter account:
First place for the 20th Philadelphia Marathon just crossed the finish line and captured the gold! Congrats Abebe Mekuriya! #PhillyMarathon— PhiladelphiaMarathon (@Philly_Marathon) November 17, 2013
That's less than a minute off Joseph Nderitu's course record of 2:16:47, set in 2003. That just shows you how impressive Mekuriya's time was, even if that record dates back to 1994, when the event started back up again.
Perhaps what was even cooler about the win was this little tidbit from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Marc Narducci:
The men's winner, Abebe Mekuriya, was not only an initial Philadelphia Marathon participant, but he is on his first visit to the United States.
Mekuriya hails from Ethiopia and did not land in the United States for the first time until five days before the race.
Talk about hitting the ground running. Mekuriya almost quite literally did that. He arrives in the United States and then five days later he wins the Philadelphia Marathon. Some nonrunners probably need a week to get over the jet lag.
That's the kind of thing you can't make up, and quite frankly, an efficient use of one's time. Mekuriya came to the States to win the marathon, and that's what he did.
Of course, now all eyes will be on him at the Boston Marathon. He's earned a spot in the race by virtue of his win in Philadelphia.
But what could he possibly have for a follow-up, in terms of narrative?
Maybe he could helicopter in right before the race begins. Arriving via parachute would be even better.
Mekuriya wasn't the only story of the marathon, even in the men's half.
Nick Hilton, who was born in Reading, Pa., got a third-place finish, with a time of 2:19:35.57. This was his first marathon ever, which makes the accomplishment all the more special.
3rd place winner Nicholas Hilton completed the course with an unofficial time of 2:19:36 for his FIRST EVER marathon. #PhillyMarathon— PhiladelphiaMarathon (@Philly_Marathon) November 17, 2013
Although he no longer calls Pennsylvania home, it had to be nice for Hilton to have such a big performance so close to his hometown. None of the other runners near the top of the standings had the luxury of performing in a city which they lived an hour away from as a kid.
On the women's side, first-time winner Irina Alexandrova had a unique story as well. As Narducci reported, Alexandrova's agent, Larisa Mikhaylova, had won the event before, in 2004, and then finished second the next two years.
Nothing like having somebody that close to your camp having invaluable experience like that. Mikhaylova was able to impart some great advice to her client, and Alexandrova made sure to make the most of it.
So the keys for anybody hoping to win the 2014 Philadelphia Marathon are to arrive in the city with little time to prepare, and hire an agent who's already won before. Then, you can't fail.