CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Daniel Mesfun of Eritrea came in as the unofficial winner of the men's marathon at Sunday's Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.
"I will make a decision at some point in time," executive race director Jack Staph said of a pending official ruling. "I would say within the next two days. We have to review tape and the chip mat (used to register time splits)."
Staph will also consider clothing rules interpretations. Mesfun wore a shirt over the bib identifying him as a marathon runner until pulling the shirt off with about 200 yards to go. He said he wore the shirt for some warmth as he endured cramps in his mid-section.
There is no dispute that Mesfun began the race and ran it in its entirety.
Afterwards in the media area, however, his first-place finish was challenged by other top finishers. Second-place runner Philemon Terer, who led for much of the race, claimed that since Mesfun's bib wasn't visible until late in the race, he didn't know if Mesfun was in the marathon or half marathon.
The men's winner gets $3,000 in prize money, second place gets $1,500 and third place gets $1,000.
Mesfun finished the 26.2-mile race in two hours, 16 minutes and 33 seconds. Terer (2:16:55) and Abraham Chelanga (2:19:17), both of Kenya, placed second and third, respectively.
Marathon races begin outside Quicken Loans Arena, wind through the city -- and, in the full marathon, into Lakewood and Rocky River -- before finishing at Public Square.
Mesfun came to the United States about a year ago and lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.
He said he not only had cramps, but also a sore hamstring.
"I tried to overcome the pain of the hamstring," he said. "After the first half, I tried to push it. I picked up the pace. I'm so proud. The people are the heart of the race. I say 'thank you' to them. They were a motivation."
Cleveland Marathon 2018: Men's race ends amid controversy; awaits ...
Daniel Mesfun of Eritrea, the unofficial winner of the full marathon during the 41st Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon in downtown Cleveland on Sunday May 20, 2018. (Kyle Lanzer/Special to The Plain Dealer)