Leg cramps and rib pains didn’t stop three women runners from putting on a show at the 2011 ING New York City Marathon.

Firehiwot Dado, of Ethiopia, won the women’s portion of the marathon with a time of 2:23:15. For her victory, Dado earned a prize of $130,000 and a $40,000 bonus ($170,000 total. Fellow countrywoman Buzunesh Deba, who now calls The Bronx home, finished in second place with a 2:23:19 time. Third place went to Mary Keitany, of Kenya, who completed the 26.2 mile-course with a 2:23:39 time.

But, of course, the journey to the finish is much more interesting than the end.

Keitany ran at unusually fast pace to start the race and spent a huge chunk of the marathon by herself with Dado and Deba seemingly racing against each other for second place.

“Because she’d been running so fast, I didn’t imagine we’d catch her,” said Deba during the post-run news conference. Her and Dado agreed that even their own pace was too fast for them. Deba approached the podium limping a bit due to muscle cramps in her right leg.

Dado, using a translator for help, spoke few words, but let reporters know of her joy for winning the race. “‘I’m very happy. It was very very great,” she said. “It was a tough race, but I’m happy to have run New York.”

“You need to say more,” said the moderator as Dado and the audience laughed.. “Champions need to say more.”

Keitany, on the other hand, tried to explain how she lost her lead.

“My knees got me,” said Keitany. “I was a feeling a little bit of fatigue in my leg.” Some of that fatigue could’ve been the energy wasted at the beginning that opened a lead of over three minutes on the rest of the pack, but slowing down near the end. Did running so fast to start the race take its toll on Keitany? If she had the chance to come back to New York in 2012 and run again, would she change her running style?

“If my body doesn’t react the same…,” said Keitany as she trailed off and regained her composure. “I will not change.”