SCRANTON — Back in April, Suleman Abrar Shifa, an Ethiopian-born runner who now lives in New York City, won the Scranton Half Marathon.
The 23-year-old returned to the area on Sunday, only this time, he taking home the top prize at the 21st annual Steamtown Marathon.
“Now I won the half and the full,” said Shifa after breaking the tape in 2 hours, 17 minutes and four seconds for the $1,500 purse.
He did it by pulling off a negative split performance, actually running the second half of the race faster than the first half by about a half minute — something rare in marathon racing.
“He began pulling away from me at about seven miles into the race (on a hill),” said second-place finisher C. Fred Joslyn of Mount Holly Springs, who won the race the last three years. “I never saw him again.”
Joslyn, 32, clocked in at 2:26:41. The former standout runner from SUNY Cortland won $1,000.
D.J. Krystal, 25, of West Harrison, N.Y., finished third in 2:29:22. The former Bucknell track and cross country star won $500
Caitlin Phillips, 34, of Brooklyn, won top female honors finishing in 2:41:37 and $1,500.
She outran second-place finisher, Heidi Peoples of Scranton, by nearly eight minutes. Peoples, who won All America honors at Moravian College, has won Steamtown four times. She took $1,000.
“I was running pretty good until I reached mile 19 — that’s when I began cramping,” said Phillips, who ran for the University of Kentucky.
But once she got over the cramping, Phillips was on her way to a strong finish and an easy victory.
Over 2,000 runners from six countries and 36 states and the District of Columbia competed in the marathon.
Runners from Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina who weren’t able to get flights out of their states because of Hurricane Matthew to get to the race will be allowed to use this year’s registration form for next year’s race provided they contact the Steamtown Marathon, Anne Gallagher, head of registration, said.
Proceeds from the race will go to St. Joseph’s Center, a facility in Dunmore for neurologically impaired, multiply handicapped and medically fragile children and young adults.
On Thursday night at the preface VIP party at the Glen Oak Country Club in Clarks Summit, race director, Bill King, and race treasurer, Jack Marx, presented Sister Maryalice Jacquiot, IHM, president of St. Joe’s with a check for $50,000.
Once all expenses are paid, another check will be given to St Joe’s. When the final count is in, it’s estimated that in its 21-year history the marathon will have given St. Joe’s about $1.5 million.
“All of us at St. Joseph’s Center are grateful for the impact the Steamtown Marathon has made over the past 21 years,” Sister Maryalice said. “The runners use their tremendous physical abilities to benefit those whose physical abilities are limited. It’s a gift of mutual respect.”
How Wilkes-Barre area runners fared
• Kelly Ciravolo, 37, of Shavertown, finished fifth overall among the women, clocking in at 3:00:29. Ciravolo, who is the area’s top female triathlete, won $100.
• Marjorie Adams, of Dallas, won second-place honors in the 55-59 age group bracket with a 3:49:25 finishing time.