Running through a cold and steady drizzle, Fernando Cabada waited 20 miles to make his move.
Crossing under the Lake Street Bridge in Minneapolis, Cabada pulled away from a dense pack to win the men's division of the Twin Cities Marathon Sunday. Olga Glok won the women's division.
"At 20 miles I just got real mad and said, 'You're tough, attack these hills, you've done all the work, you're running for a lot of people today,"' said Cabada, 26. "All the people who said I couldn't do it, that I'm a has-been. I did it for a lot of things."
He finished in 2:16:32, one minute and six seconds ahead of second place finisher and Minnesota-native Matt Gabrielson.
"He ran smart and he ran tough, and Fernando deserves that more than anybody," Gabrielson said.
Glok, of Russia, won her first career marathon in a dramatic finish, making up a 10-second deficit in the final mile to win by 11 seconds, finishing in 2:32:38. It was a moment of excitement for a finish-line crowd thinned because of the weather.
"It was difficult to be in that situation," Glok, 25, said through a translator. "It's difficult with the distance to make up, but the cold and the rain makes it even more difficult."
The race time temperature was 48 degrees and overcast, with a rain from start to finish. It was a big change from 2007, when the race was cut short because of concerns about the heat.
"I was having some problems with my quadracepts," Cabada said. "But I just thought, you know what, if my legs are hurting then their legs are hurting too."
Raised by a single mother on welfare, Cabada said he got into running because of pressure to play basketball and baseball from his father, who spent most of Cabada's childhood in prison. He didn't win a high school varsity cross-country race until his junior year, when he went through a large growth spurt.
He hadn't ran a marathon since a disappointing finish at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan 14 months ago.
After that race he changed coaches, to marathon legend Steve Jones, quit partying and began training at higher elevations. It showed Sunday, as he increased his lead at every mile mark after taking his lead.
"I just wanted to prove to myself that I belong on top," Cabada said. "It's all good to get second or third, but to win you have to be the animal. It's like, you're the man today."