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‘It’s a dream come true’: Local runner Tom McGrath wins Edmonton Marathon – Edmonton

WATCH ABOVE: The 24th annual Edmonton Marathon saw thousands cross the finish line Sunday. Whether the goal was to win, or just beat your personal best, the race meant something different to everyone, including one colourful character. Jessica Kent reports.

EDMONTON — Crossing the finish line first, at a personal best time of 2:28:48, Edmontonian Tom McGrath won the 24th annual Edmonton Marathon Sunday.

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“It’s a dream come true to win your hometown marathon in front of friends, family,” said McGrath, whose father came in from Canmore to watch him race.

“It was really special, it was sort of an unexpected win.”

The 29-year-old edged out Ontario’s Thomas Omwenga, a four-time Vancouver Marathon champ, for the top spot in the 42-kilometre race.

McGrath started distance running in high school and finished his first marathon in 2006. He was the fastest Canadian at the 2014 Boston Marathon and came in second at the Edmonton Marathon.

McGrath estimates he ran about 5,000 to 6,000 kilometres over the past year, and it would appear his hard work paid off.

“There’s no feeling in the world that beats this one,” he said of winning in front of the hometown crowd.

WATCH: Two of the top marathon men in western Canada call Edmonton home 

American Emily Potter came in first in the women’s race with a time of 2:42:56. Lethbridge’s Daniel Kipkoech won the 21-kilometre half marathon with a time of 1:03:36.

About 4,000 people took part in this year’s event, which included a 5km, 10km and half marathon. With people of all ages and fitness levels, from countries around the world, the founder of the Running Room said participants were very impressed with this year’s course.

“When I’ve talked to the runners as they’ve come across the finish line they’ve all said the same thing, which is that they’re just amazed with the crowds of people along the way,” said John Stanton. “People are out with their deck chairs and coffees and cheering people on.

“It’s been a marvelous morning.”

Stanton believes the event will easily grow to about 6,000 racers next year. He hopes to one day see it grow to 15,000 or 20,000.