Shrimp pasta with tomato sauce was the dinner of champions at the fifth annual Baltimore Running Festival.
Men's marathon winner Mykola Antonenko, women's winner Ramilya Burangulova and second-place finisher Ilona Barvanova all shared the meal at a gathering held for international runners at a Baltimore area seafood chain Friday night.
Whether or not the meal added needed protein, it gave the runners a boost on Saturday. Antonenko ran through the finish line, between Oriole Park at Camden Yards and its nearby warehouse, with a time of 2 hours 15 minutes 40 seconds. Burangulova won in 2:42:00. The two runners faced little challenge by the end, each winning by more than 1:20.
Antonenko, of Ukraine, and Burangulova, of Russia, headed the list of Eastern Europeans who controlled both races. The top three male and top four female finishers, including Barvanova (Ukraine), are from Eastern Europe, with Burangulova winning for the second straight year and Antonenko becoming the first non-Kenyan to win the men's race.
Through a long stretch of hills, Antonenko, 33, made his move. He broke free from a six-runner pack at the 16th-mile mark and by the 20th mile he built a 17-second lead on his closest competitors. Antonenko never looked back, running no slower than a 5:17 mile from when he took the lead until the last mile. From Mile 15 to its peak in Mile 19, around Clifton Park on the east side of the city, the course rises more than 200 feet.
"Coming to the 16th-mile mark, I found myself feeling too lazy, too comfortable with the pace," Antonenko said through an interpreter. "So I decided to run harder and run to the ability to that I could. I expected somebody to be able to keep pace, but I wasn't looking around for anyone."
Burangulova, 44, also had the race won early. By Mile 18, she had opened up a 33-second lead.
"Last year, I had the same experience," Burangulova said through an interpreter. "I understood that the pace was going too slow. I had a lot of strength, I felt strong and I felt comfortable going forward."
As opposed to the relatively flat course of the Marine Corps Marathon, which will be held in Washington in two weeks, the Baltimore marathon is a race distinguished by the city's numerous hills.
"It's a very interesting course," men's second-place finisher Mikhail Khobotov of Russia said through an interpreter. "They didn't let you sleep on the course. When the course is flat and you're running at an even pace it can get boring. When a runner is running this kind of course, they say it's a funny course because you can laugh at it because there are so many changes throughout."
Antonenko and Burangulova each took home $15,000 for their efforts as part of a $100,000 total purse.
More than 10,000 runners participated in the running festival -- the largest number in the event's history -- which also included a team relay, 5K run and half marathon. Each year, the marathoners have taken a different path through the city, and this year was the first time participants ran through Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.
The top area finisher -- and top American -- in the men's marathon was Craig Arnold, 46, of Takoma Park, who finished eighth overall in 2:31:20. In the women's race, Angela Folstad-Holm, 35, of Accokeek, crossed the line in 18th (3:23:36).