Detroit — Nancy McCardell is an experienced runner and has run in other marathons. But her favorite part of the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon is crossing the Ambassador Bridge as the sun rises.
“The sun starts to come up as you get to the peak of the bridge so it’s just a beautiful view,” said McCardell, 56, of Commerce Lake, who has run the race for the past few years with her friend and fellow flight attendant Joy Mersman, 42, of White Lake.
Runners such as McCardell and Mersman were among the thousands crossing the finish line Sunday morning, cheered on crowds along the route that traversed through historic neighborhoods, around Belle Isle, along the RiverWalk and into Windsor via the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
About 27,000 runners registered for the marathon and related races while an estimated 50,000 spectators were expected to line the course. By mid-afternoon, the last of the runners had crossed the finish line, few spectators were left and organizers started to break down tents, crowd control devices and other gear.
Twenty-two-year-old Zachary Ornelas of Ann Arbor won the men’s race in 2 hours, 20 minutes, 11 seconds, while 42-year-old Lyubov Denisova of Gainesville, Fla., won the women’s race in 2:44:53
McCardell and Mersman, wrapped in the silver emergency blankets given to runners after they complete the race, said they finished the half-marathon portion of the race in 2 ½ hours
“It was a well-organized race,” McCardell said.
Added Mersman: “It was a beautiful day. It was better than the rain yesterday so we lucked out as far as that goes.”
The 26.2-mile race began at about 7 a.m. in brisk weather with temperatures in the low-40s. Sunny skies gave way to some clouds after noon and temperatures reached the high-40s.
Updated race day security was in place in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. Backpacks and duffel bags weren’t accepted at gear check Sunday; only clear bags provided to runners were allowed.
Marathon officials say safety is always a top priority. Marathon officials met with local, state and federal agencies for a series of planning sessions ahead of the race.
Mark Ruwe, 55, of Ann Arbor finished the half marathon in 3 ½in “my first running event ever,” he said.
“I’ve been training since March,” said Ruwe, who ran for the Team World Vision church group that featured more than 800 runners to raise money to bring clean drinking water to communities in Africa. “So the last three miles were a test of endurance but I did it.”
Ruwe said running in the marathon was “offered as an opportunity to serve” through his Northridge Church in Plymouth, “And I said, I can do this.”
“God is the one who helped me get through it,” Ruwe said. “It was harder than I thought. Every good thing is.”
Linda Garnica, 48, of Allen Park, ran the full marathon, her fifth Detroit event, and also was sponsored by the Team World Vision organization.
“If it wasn’t for my friends that I was running with ... it was rough today,” she said, adding she was nursing some left thigh pain throughout her run. “My friends were awesome. We stayed together. The day was beautiful. The course was beautiful.”
The Associated Press contributed.