In unusually good running weather, defending champion Antonio Marchi won the Bluegrass 10,000 in unusually dominating fashion Friday.
Marchi, a former Henry Clay and Berea College standout, finished one minute and 58 seconds ahead of second-place Thomas Morgan. That was only five seconds shy of the record for victory margin in Lexington's annual 6.2-mile road race.
Marchi took a five-yard lead before the lead pack of runners turned off Main Street and onto Limestone.
"I felt pressure because in the first mile, there was someone right behind me," Marchi said. "And then by the second mile, Thomas was there."
Marchi recalled that Morgan, a former University of Kentucky All-American, had out-kicked him to the finish in a 5K race last year.
"So I thought he might win this race," Marchi said.
Instead, Marchi steadily widened his lead. The margin was 10 yards when the leaders passed the Hunt Morgan House. It grew to about a half block near the first crossing of South Ashland Ave. Maybe 100 yards at Shriners Hospital.
By the time Marchi was running west on Main Street toward the finish line, fans had to squint to see any other runners.
Fans, some wearing jackets, hoodies, long-sleeved shirts and sweaters, cheered on Marchi. Cries of "Go, Antonio!" filled the air as Marchi, who finished among the top five for a fourth straight year, sped along at a steady five-minute-per-mile clip.
Marchi, a native of Argentina who has a Bachelor's degree from Berea and a Master's from Morehead State, expected to maintain a steady pace. He noted track workouts and running the hills at Lexington's Raven Run Nature Sanctuary.
"I knew I was in good shape to run five-flat throughout," said Marchi, whose time in the Bluegrass 10K improved for a fifth straight year: From 34:11 in 2010 to 33:39 in 2011 to 32:17 in 2012 to 31:44 last year to 31:02.
At the start of the race, the temperature was 57 degrees, or 18 degrees cooler than average for the Bluegrass 10,000, which is run every July 4 in Lexington.
"It was perfect," Marchi said of the weather. "Perfect. It was calm. The wind was calm (5 mph out of the north). Dry. Cool."
■ Greg Queen won his 10th consecutive title in the hand-cycle wheelchair division. His time was 18:45. The Lily resident also won two push wheelchair titles in the 1990s.
■ A total of 3,144 people registered for the race. The finishers totaled 2,850.