Even as tens of thousands of personal bests were achieved Sunday along the five-borough course of the ING New York City Marathon, one man made history, blazing to a record-fast Gotham finish.
Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai, 30, burst from the leading pack at the 20-mile mark to win in 2:05:06, more than two and a half minutes faster than the previous course record set in 2001. He went home with $130,000 for winning, and $70,000 for setting the new record.
Finishing second was Emmanuel Mutai, no relation to his fellow Kenyan, who completed the 26.2-mile test in 2:06:28 and clinched a $500,000 bonus for winning the world marathon majors championship.
Meanwhile, Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia produced a thrilling comeback to claim the women's title.
The grueling race on a glorious, marathon-perfect autumn day drew more than 47,000 participants. Retired Rangers captain Mark Messier - one of several celebrity athletes competing - finished in 4:14:21.
But the 54-year-old was reportedly dizzy afterward, and was wheeled to a medical tent where he was kept for observation.
"I just got filled up with inspiration. I feel great now," Messier, who raised money for two charities, said later in a statement.
The marathon took its toll on other participants, including 55-year-old Richard Waldman, a landscape architect who collapsed at the 22-mile marker at Fifth Avenue near West 117th Street.
An officer covered Waldman while runners scurried past him. The Long Island man suffers from low blood pressure, his family told the New York Post, and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital where he was in good spirits.
Meanwhile, the women's front-runners looked headed for a record-setting time with London Marathon winner Mary Keitany of Kenya firing out to a massive lead just past the halfway mark.
But Dado and fellow Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba overtook the fading front-runner in the final mile.
Dado, a three-time Rome Marathon winner, claimed the New York crown in 2:23:15, four seconds ahead of Deba, who lives and trains in New York and was lifted by spirited support from friends once she hit the Bronx before heading to Central Park.
"At the end I was feeling a bit fatigued in my leg and this was why my colleagues got me," Keitany said.
Dado surged by and later so did Deba, winner of the Los Angeles and San Diego marathons, on the last straight in the park.
"Once we saw her, we said, 'Let's catch her,'" Dado said. "And working together, we caught her."
Deba gained strength once she hit familiar ground in the Bronx: "That's my place, that's my home place," she said. "And I have confidence."