On a postcard-worthy spring morning that felt more like autumn, Patrick Makau of Kenya attempted to set a new standard of excellence for the Healthy Kidney 10K held in Central Park. Makau wanted to surpass U.S. Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein’s record of 28.08 set at last year’s event. Makau didn’t break the record, but he still posted a 28:13, the fourth-fastest ran lap in Central Park history, and won the 10K.

Before the race, Makau felt pretty sure that the record would belong to him. “[Breaking the record] should not be difficult,” he said during a pre-race media conference. Makau had reason to feel that way: He had already won four major half-marathons in 2008. In the running world, Central Park’s known by many as a deceivingly challenging track, and Makau had some difficulties halfway through the race.

After building a 10-second lead against his closest competitors, the Harlem Hills proved difficult for Makau, as he surprisingly needed to work a little harder. This allowed Brazilian and 2006 ING New York City Marathon winner Marilson Gomes dos Santos, who ran the course in 28:31, to close the gap and eventually take the lead through the five-mile mark. However, Makau, completely exhausted, managed to make up ground and cross the finish line with Gomes 12 seconds behind him.Richard Kiplagat, a six-time IC4A title winner at Iona College, finished with a 29:08, which was good enough for third place.

Makau had extra motivation for winning this event–the $20,000 Zayed bonus offered by race sponsor Embassy of the United Arab Emirates. Makau’s building a school for the children of his hometown in Kenya with his $7,500 winning purse. Needless