RALEIGH For 20 miles or so, Patrick Reaves, 24, didn't think he had a chance.
But in the most challenging part of the City of Oaks Marathon, on a wet, cold and gusty Sunday morning, Reaves, a graduate student at Duke, finally brought the race's leader into his sights, and he found new life in the muddy hills of Umstead State Park.
He took the lead and never looked back, and with a time of 2:33:03, Reaves finished ahead of Orinthal Striggles of Elgin, S.C., (2:38:23) and Nicholas Robin of Durham (2:39:37).
"It feels amazing," Reeves said of his first marathon win. "Honestly, I thought I was running for second.
"I didn't see the guy in first place until 20 miles into it. He was falling off pretty fast."
The conditions were far from ideal for the event, in its third year. It was rainy and in the 50s when the race started, and there were wind gusts as roughly 3,500 runners picked up speed at the starting line.
Reaves said he never considered not running because of the weather, even as he said he has never run in such bad conditions, which was a common refrain.
He said when he saw that he could win, he found new legs, ignoring the wind in his face and powering over the steep, slippery hills of Umstead.
He said he ran his fastest five miles at race's end.
"The course was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be," Reaves said. "I was really trying to stay patient, patient, patient.
"In the end, it paid off."