Device on marathon course likely not explosive, police say
The Pittsburgh police bomb squad unloads its robot to inspect the contents of a microwave oven that was found near the finish line.
Kipyegon Kirui, of Kenya, won the men's title with a time of 2:17:12.
Alena Vinitskaya, of Belarus, took the women's title in 2:42:33.
Despite running in a pouring rain, Chris Rotelli pours his cup of water over his head as he runs along East Carson Street.
Martin Perry, wearing a white shirt, gets on his knees to propose to Kristen Kostelich just as she is about to cross the finish line. The couple is from Baldwin.
Cpt. Ivan Castro, left, who is blind, runs tethered to Lt. Col Fred Dummar, at the start of the wheelchair group. Both are Green Beret officers in the Army Special Operation Recruiting Battalion, Fort Bragg, N.C. Castro was blinded and suffered multiple wounds, including two collapsed lungs during a mortar attack in September 2006 in Iraq. This is their eighth marathon.
Ashlyn Heider, with her dogs Archie, left, and Lily, watches for her friend Jessica Blasik to pass by during along rainy East Carson Street on the South Side.
More than 16,000 runners jammed the Strip District as the Pittsburgh Marathon gets under way.
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City police now believe there were no explosives in a microwave oven that was discarded near the Pittsburgh Marathon finish line and caused a full-scale response from the bomb squad.
Acting Cmdr. Kevin Kraus said this afternoon that the oven's contents resembled an explosive, but "it doesn't appear that it was an actual explosive device."
He would not speculate on what was inside the microwave, but said investigators were still examining the remnants. He offered no timetable for when their work might be completed.
Kipyegon Kirui, a 29-year-old Kenyan, won the rain-soaked marathon with a time of 2 hours, 17 minutes and 12 seconds.
Alena Vinitskaya, a 36-year-old from Belarus, captured the women's title, doing so in 2:42:33.
After the leaders had finished, Pittsburgh police detoured the final segment of the race course because of what they believed was an explosive device in a small microwave oven on the sidewalk at 11th Street and Penn Avenue.
They cordoned off several blocks near the original finish lines for the marathon and half-marathon. The bomb squad was on scene and used a robot to detonate the device.
Police for a time ordered all runners and pedestrians out of an area bounded by Ninth and 13th streets, the Allegheny River and Liberty Avenue.
Police Sgt. James Kohnen said the microwave had a "suspicious explosive device" inside and that a robot was used to render it harmless. People in the area heard an explosion at about 10:45 a.m.
The bomb squad gave the all-clear shortly before 11 a.m. and police then turned toward squelching a rumor circulating through some race checkpoints that the marathon had been called off.
The finish line for the full marathon was moved to 13th and Smallman streets; for the half-marathon, Ninth and Fort Duquesne Boulevard, after the bomb threat.
The threat prompted marathon officials to call off the awards ceremony that customarily follows completion of the race.
At a briefing this afternoon, city police Chief Nathan Harper said police would review surveillance camera tapes from the area to try to determine who left it on the sidewalk.
Cmdr. Kraus said the bomb squad X-rayed the oven and saw contents "that were definitely questionable and highly suspicious." He said police will investigate the possibility that someone left it there as a hoax.
Remnants of a Styrofoam container and ravioli were observed near the detonation site.
For navigating the 26.2 miles through the city streets quicker than the other 5,000 participants who ran the full marathon, Kirui won a prize of $6,500.
Wilson Chepkwony finished second (2:17:44) and Mahammed Awol was third (2:19:23).
"The rain was great," Kirui said. "It didn't affect [me]. I liked it a lot."
Kirui took command during the 22nd mile, as, until that point, Isaac Macharia had led much of the race. But Kirui made his move and never trailed again. Macharia ended up fourth.
Vinitskaya, mother of two younger than 5, also won $6,500 for finishing as the top woman. She bested her nearest competitor, Phebe Ko, by more than three minutes.
"I'm an old woman," she said with a laugh. "It felt good to run with the young women and beat them."
Vinitskaya took the lead during the 14th mile, pulled ahead and was faced with the demanding task of running the final 12 miles removed from the other women's competitors.
Two runners with local ties were champions in the half-marathon field.
Ryan Sheehan, a Baldwin High School graduate who ran collegiately for Saint Francis in Loretto, won the men's half-marathon with a time of 1:05:13 and Kristin Price was the women's champion, finishing the course in 1:17:37.
Both Sheehan and Price won $1,000 for their efforts.
"Early on, when I showed up, I was thinking I'd go about 1:04," said Sheehan, who now lives in Kalamazoo, Mich. "But that was before the rain and the wind. The weather definitely slowed everything out there."
Price is a 2000 Penn-Trafford High School graduate who lives in Raleigh, N.C. and captured the title in the full marathon last year.
For full marathon coverage and results, see tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
First Published May 2, 2010 8:15 am