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Gorman: Americans carry flag for Pittsburgh

Andrew Erickson
| Sunday, May 1, 2016 3:10 p.m
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Kipkoech Ruto of Kenya crosses the finish line of the Pittsburgh Marathon, winning the race at a time of 2 hours, 17 minutes, and 27 seconds on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Runners start the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Runners start the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
Runners climb the hill up Forbes Avenue into Oakland during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016. The only big hill in the full marathon is just before mile 12.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
Runners race down Forbes Avenue in Oakland during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
Dean Crummy, 56, of Arlington cheers on runners during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016, as they cross the Birmingham Bridge. Last year, he was unemployed and couldn't afford the entry fee. This year, a friend bought him an entry but Crummy suffered two heart attacks at the begining of the year and couldn't run but came to cheer on the runners just the same.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
Cameron North, 2, of Ross offers water at a fluid station on Forbes Avenue in Oakland during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
The crew from Amazing Yoga in Shadyside, including Lauren King (left) and Jess Brubach (center), support runners along Walnut Street in Shadyside during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
John Platt of Moon who has run the Boston, New York and Chicago Marathons crosses the Birmingham Bridge while running the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon Sunday May 1, 2016.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
Members of the Pittsburgh Steeline, the Steelers official drumline rock a cadence for the runners making the turn at South Aiken Avenue and Walnut Street in Shadyside during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday May 1, 2016.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
A group of elite runners cross the Birmingham Bridge during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday May 1, 2016.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
Runners start to make the climb up Forbes Avenue into Oakland during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday May 1, 2016.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
Runners make their way down Fifth Avenue into downtown for the half-marathon during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday May 1, 2016.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
A group of University of Pittsburgh students cheer on runners from the Litchfield Towers terrace above Forbes Avenue in Oakland during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday May 1, 2016.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
A sign declares 'Only 6 more miles until Homewood' near mile 12 along Forbes Avenue in Oakland during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday May 1, 2016.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
Runners cross the Birmingham Bridge during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday May 1, 2016.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
Runners cross the Birmingham Bridge during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Runners start the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Runners make their way downtown at dawn before the start of the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Spectators watch as runners cross the Seventh Street bridge during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Runners line Liberty Avenue as they await the start the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Runners start the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Elite runners, including winner Kipkoech Ruto (front right), start the Pittsburgh Marathon along Liberty Avenue Sunday, May 1, 2016, downtown.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Runners make their way along Sandusky Street onto East Commons during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016, on the North Side.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Participants in the Pittsburgh Marathon pause for the national anthem along Liberty Avenue before the statrt of the race Sunday, May 1, 2016, downtown.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Runners cross the Seventh Street bridge in a steady rain during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Runners start the Pittsburgh Marathon along Liberty Avenue Sunday, May 1, 2016, downtown.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Runners make their way through West Park during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016, on the North Side.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Jim Skal of Aliquippa pauses to high-five runners while drumming along East Commons during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016, on the North Side.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Mike Bruno runs across the Seventh Street bridge with his daughter, Cassie, during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Mike Bruno runs across the Seventh Street bridge with his daughter, Cassie, during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Runners cross the Seventh Street bridge in a steady rain during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Alan and Mary Hartman of McMurray cheer on their daughter, Jessie, along the Sandusky Street during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016, on the North Side.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Elite runners stretch at the starting line before comepting in the Pittsburgh Marathon along Liberty Avenue Sunday, May 1, 2016, downtown.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Jim Skal of Aliquippa plays drums for runners along East Commons during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016, on the North Side. Skal has been entertaining at the marathon for seven years.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Runners cross the Seventh Street bridge in a steady rain during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Kipkoech Ruto walks to the starting line along Liberty Avenue before running the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016, downtown. Ruto won the race.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Kipkoech Ruto crosses the Seventh Street bridge during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016, downtown.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Shumaker family of Hampton cheer on their mom during the Pittsburgh Marathon along Western Avenue Sunday, May 1, 2016, on the North Side.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Runners make their way through West Park during the Pittsburgh Marathon Sunday, May 1, 2016, on the North Side.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Kenneth Bestine, 49, of Clymer, N.Y. wins the wheeler division of the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Runners fill Liberty Avenue, Downtown as they start the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Paul Yak grimaces as he finishes the half marathon in the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon Downtown on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Runners near the finish line of the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Jeffrey Whitmore, 26, of Washington D.C., hugs Dr. Ronald Roth after finishing the half marathon course of the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016. Dr. Roth was one of the first responders who came to the rescue of Whitmore, administering CPR, in last year's marathon after he suffered a major coronary.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Werkuhah Aboye Seyoum, 31, of New York, NY prepares to cross the finish line, taking second place in the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Craig Dunn, 30, and Breanne Hynek, 25, both of Scottdale, embrace after crossing the finish line of the half marathon course of the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Runners finish the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Musa Ido, 27, of Silver Springs, Md., prepares to cross the finish line of the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016. Ido finished in the top 10 of the full marathon.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Tyler Jermann, 23, of Flagstaff, Ariz., holds up the U.S. Flag after finishing third in the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Tony Migliozzi, 20, of Pittsburgh is assisted after finishing fourth in the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Phebe Ko, 33, of San Francisco, Cailf., crosses the finish line in the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016. Ko finished third in the woman's division of the full marathon.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Hailemaryam Ayantu Dakebo of Ethiopia was the female winner of the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon with a time of 2:29:18 on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Tyler Jermann, 23, of Flagstaff, Ariz., finished third in the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon with a time of 2:20:37 on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Tyler Jermann, 23, of Flagstaff, Ariz., wears his third-place medal around his neck after finishing in the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon with a time of 2:20:37 on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Werkuhah Aboye Seyoum, 31, of Ethiopia finished second in the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon with a time of 2:19:42 on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Kipkoech Ruto of Kenya was the winner of the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016. Ruto finished with a time of 2:17:27.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Rain falls as the first runners make their way across the West End Bridge as they run the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Rain falls as runners make their way across the West End Bridge as they run the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Runners run around construction signs and under road signs as they run through the West End during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Rain falls as runners make their way across the West End Bridge as they run the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016. The blur is caused by a long exposure in-camera.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Rain falls as runners make their way across the West End Bridge as they run the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Iris Clauser, 1, strikes the drum as members of Bible Center Church come out to cheer on runners as they make their way through Clauser's neighborhood of Homewood during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Runners keep their pace through Homewood as they run the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Ja'dyn Moore, 7, eats a donut in her grandmother's fox fur wrap as she takes a break from volunteering at a refreshment station in her neighborhood of Homewood during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Volunteers hand out water as runners pass through Homewood during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016. Organized by Operation Better Block, the neighborhood brought out a deejay and volunteers to help hand out water and snacks for the runners and clean up their trash.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
A runner carrying an American flag makes his way through Homewood during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Steve Price, 69, hands out granola bars as runners pass through Homewood during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Ja'dyn Moore, 7, dons her grandmother's fox fur wrap as she volunteers passing out water and candy in her neighborhood of Homewood during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
From left to right, Taezhun Franklin, 8, Tayler Franklin, 6, and Keimonie Johnson, 4, watch runners pass by in their neighborhood of Homewood during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
A woman smiles and waves a bag in the air from a balcony at Homewood House as runners pass by the Homewood Fluid Station during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Runners dressed as a bride and groom wave as they pass by the Homewood House and the Homewood Fluid Station during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
From front to back, Tayler, 6, Taezhun, 8, and Tavious Franklin, 9, all stick their hands out for high-fives as runners pass through her neighborhood of Homewood during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
City of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto greets marathoners along the route in Homewood during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Jocelyn Taylor, 75, sits in her parked car as she claps for marathoners along the route in her neighborhood of Homewood during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016. 'I've been watching since the beginning,' said Taylor, who said she's been watching the marathon come through her neighborhood since the annual event began.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Bruce Chan, 32, gives out high-fives as 'Hot Cop' as he greets marathoners passing through his neighborhood of Bloomfield during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016. Chan says he and his friends (known by some as 'Bruce's Buddies') come out every year to cheer on the participants.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Teddy Tossany, front, 22, of the North Side, and Wyatt Albert, 25, of Plum, hold their M.C. Hammer and Morgan Freeman-themed signs of encouragement as they line the marathon route through Bloomfield during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016. 'It's a million-and-one high fives in a day,' said Albert, who made the signs as a Saturday project.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Susan Ceklosky of Canonsburg gets high-fives from Bethany Bowman, 29, and Robert Heinrich, 28, as they line the marathon route through their neighborhood of Bloomfield during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and City of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto cheer on marathoners as they stand along route through Bloomfield during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Runners come down Liberty Ave. through the Strip District in the final stretch before the Downtown finish line during the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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James Knox | Tribune-Review
Amazing Yoga employees cheer on marathon runners on Sunday, May 1, 2016, on Walnut Street in Shadyside.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Tyler Jermann, 23, of Flagstaff, Ariz., holds up the U.S. Flag after finishing third in the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Phebe Ko, 33, of San Francisco, Cailf., crosses the finish line in the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2016. Ko finished third in the woman's division of the full marathon.
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Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Tyler Jermann, 23, of Flagstaff, Ariz., finished third in the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon with a time of 2:20:37 on Sunday, May 1, 2016.

Phebe Ko heard her twin sister Mindy call out at the 17-mile marker that she was in third place and the first American among the women running the Pittsburgh Marathon.

That gave the anesthesiologist from San Francisco a mental boost as she approached the final stage of the 26.2-mile race.

“I got a little surge there, an adrenaline rush,” said Ko, 33. “I knew if I could not hit the wall and finish strong, I had it.”

For Ko and her male counterpart, Tyler Jermann, being the first Americans to finish the Pittsburgh Marathon was as important as placing third.

That Ko and Jermann were the first Americans on Sunday to cross the finish line on the Boulevard of the Allies meant they also earned a purse greater than the respective winners.

Not only did Ko and Jermann win $4,000 checks for third place but another $4,500 for being the fastest Americans, per the American Development Program.

“I love this marathon because they really cater to Americans,” said Ko, who finished second at Pittsburgh Marathon in 2009 and ’10 before attending medical school at Johns Hopkins. “They go above and beyond. It was a no-brainer for me to come here.”

The program, which began two years ago, is an attempt to establish the Pittsburgh Marathon as the launching pad for pro runners and Olympic hopefuls.

It also makes this race one filled with incentives for American-born runners to chase down the Ethiopians and Kenyans who have dominated the sport.

“I think it’s important for us to recognize and support Americans,” P3R CEO and race director Patrice Matamoros said. “We’re looking at a generation of runners who can make an impact. It adds integrity to what we do.

“Over 1,000 marathons are held in the U.S., and only a few have a dedicated program to reward distance athletes. If you invest in the athletes, you can make changes to the industry.”

Consider: The last American-born runner to win the Pittsburgh Marathon was Jeffrey Eggleston, who did so almost by accident in 2011. He was hired to be the rabbit — a pace-setter for Olympic hopefuls — but set too fast of a pace and cruised to victory. Like Eggleston, Jermann, 23, trains in Flagstaff, Ariz., and studied Eggleston’s race strategy.

Jermann started slowly, picked up his pace and passed everyone except winner Kipkoech Ruto (2 hours, 17 minutes, 27 seconds) and second-place Werkuhah Aboye Seyoum (2:18:42). Jermann finished in 2:20:38.

“The idea is to put America back on the map,” said Jermann, inspired by Meb Keflezighi, who in 2014 became the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983. “Race after race, you see Americans finishing in the top 10 or top five now.

“These guys can go out fast and hold on. I’ve got to go out slow and try to pick ’em off. If you’re not there with the pack, you’re not going to have a shot.”

After running collegiately at Duke and attending med school, Ko practically went coast-to-coast by flying here from San Francisco.

This was her 11th marathon. That her best finishes have come in Pittsburgh is no coincidence. Ko twice has twice qualified for the Olympic Trials, and wants to use the Pittsburgh Marathon as a launching point for 2020.

Which is perfectly fine with Pittsburgh Marathon organizers.

“We’re the place where stars are discovered,” Matamoros said, noting Eggleston has two top-12 finishes in Boston. “When they get to be big names, we want to be part of their journey.”

As soon as Jermann and Ko crossed the finish line, Matamoros draped an American flag over their shoulders.

“I never got a flag before after a race,” Jermann said. “I’ll wear this all day.”

If the Pittsburgh Marathon had its way, Jermann would wear Old Glory forever while bringing new glory to the race where he was the first American to finish.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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