The Falmouth Road Race returned in-person on Sunday, bringing the excitement of live sports back to Cape Cod.
Its 49th running was one of the first official road races to come back in-person since the pandemic restrictions.
Edna Kiplagat of Kenya won the women's race, finishing with a 5:16 mile pace. Ben Flanagan of Canada won the men's race, crossing the finish line on a 4:37 mile pace.
Kiplagat -- a Boston, London and New York City Marathon champion -- pulled away at mile four.
“This was a fast race, and I needed it at this point in my training because I’m running the Boston Marathon in October,” she said. “Once I saw the finish, I focused on keeping away from second place.”
Flanagan, who made a determined push at the base of the final hill before driving over the top to seal his victory, said he set up his strategy in advance.
“I was out with my family at the Black Dog Café and I took a run on the course,” he said. “I noticed a crosswalk just before the final turn and decided I would make my move there. I knew, if I could hold off the pack until we got to the final downhill there was no way they could catch me.”
In the wheelchair division, Hermin Garic, a veteran of eight Falmouth Road Races, took his first win with a 25:40.
“I worked my butt off for this win,” he said.
Emeilia Perry took the women’s wheelchair race in 37:39.
“I’m really excited. This is my first Falmouth Road Race and I wasn’t expecting that last hill,” she said after the race.
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Molly Seidel -- the Olympic Marathon bronze medalist at the Tokyo games -- served as the official race starter and joined the field of nearly 8,000 registered participants as its very last runner.
For every runner that Seidel passed along the seven-mile course, the Falmouth Road Race initially pledged to donate $1 to Tommy’s Place -- a vacation home in Falmouth for kids fighting cancer -- but later announced it would double its pledge. The founder of Tommy's Place, Tim O’Connell, also announced an additional dollar-for-dollar match.
The Cambridge native officially ran past 4,761 runners along the way. The Falmouth Road Race donated $9,522 in appreciation of Seidel’s participation in this year’s event and in celebration of her victory in Tokyo. Combined with O'Connell's match, Seidel helped raise $19,044 for pediatric cancer patients.
"It was a ton of energy, it was really, really cool," Seidel said.
"It is cool. Coming from a race where there is very few spectators and no cheering to this was wild," she added, referencing no fans at the Tokyo Olympics.
And the big story Sunday was the crowds. Hundreds turned out to cheer on runners, including NBC10 Boston anchor Shannon Mulaire.
"To be here, with people, and actually feel the excitement, especially of this race, which is particularly different than a lot of other road races, is awesome," Mulaire said of Sunday's race.
The return of in-person running takes us one step closer to the way we remember.
"It is the feeling again of normalcy," and I know nothing is normal yet but it is just for that little bit while you are out there you feel like yourself again," said NBC Sports Boston's Trenni Kusnierek.
Established in 1973, the Falmouth Road Race is one of the premier running events of the summer season. Each year, the race draws an international field of Olympians and elite and recreational runners.
"We are so excited to be back in person," said Jennifer Edwards, executive director of the Falmouth Road Race, ahead of the event. "It's interesting because it's a race, but really it's an experience. It's a whole weekend of activity."
For the third consecutive year, NBC10 Boston, Telemundo Boston, NBC Sports Boston and NECN are the official multimedia community partners for the race.
A limited 8,000 in-person runners traversed the iconic seven-mile Cape Cod course. The remaining 3,000 registered runners were lacing up for the "at-home edition," completing the seven miles on their own time.
Runners at the official road race were required to wear surgical masks at the starting line, although they were allowed to remove them while on the course. That's one of several precautionary measures organizers were using to stem the potential spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus as the race resumes after a one-year hiatus.
Masks were also required in most indoor areas, including buses that take runners to Woods Hole and medical tents. Water station volunteers wore gloves. There was also no finish line gathering.
For more on the race, go to falmouthroadrace.com.