Alex Wang just moved to Baltimore this year, and running in the Baltimore Marathon gave her an opportunity to be involved in one of the city's major events.
"I was excited to do it," Wang said after the race. "I felt like I had to."
Wang, a 23-year-old University of Maryland graduate, won the women's division of the marathon. She is still relatively new to the area, but she said her surprise victory Saturday helped her feel more a part of the Baltimore community.
"It feels amazing," Wang said. "I don't think I would've been able to come all the way through if it weren't for all of the people cheering."
Wang, the only woman to complete the course in less than three hours, finished the race in 2 hours, 58 minutes, 41 seconds.
Though it was Wang's first appearance in the marathon, she was familiar with some areas of the course, such as the path alongside Lake Montebello that she has run in the past. Still, Wang said running the marathon gave her a chance to see some of the neighborhoods outside of downtown Baltimore that she hasn't explored.
"I liked going through all of the neighborhoods, and this year — since moving here — I've run around in some of them," Wang said. "It definitely has a community feel to it."
Wang, who attended Centennial High School in Ellicott City, said she began to feel the fatigue during the second half of the course, known for its series of hills, but cheers from the spectators motivated her to keep going.
As she approached the final stretch near Camden Yards, thousands of fans were there to see Wang cross the finish line.
"It was incredible having the police escort, and [the announcer] was announcing to everyone that I was the first female," Wang said. "It was really nice."