Since the music was loud and constant, the location Philadelphia, and the event the 2015 Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, Tim Ritchie's question after crossing the finish line first Saturday morning made sense.

"How come I never heard any Springsteen?" Ritchie asked after crossing the Museum of Art finish line with a Rocky-like jab.

The 28-year-old Massachusetts resident never did find out. But winning the 13.1-mile race through Center City and along the autumn-colored banks of the Schuylkill provided an even more important answer.

Ritchie's personal-best time of 1 hour, 1 minute, 22 seconds helped convince him he can compete in the U.S. Olympic marathon trial in February.

"I'm very encouraged," he said. "This is all part of training for the trials. I'm going to take a couple of down weeks now, then ramp up. I'll definitely race a couple more times between now and then.

"You never know what time you're going to need there. In 2012, four guys went under 2:10," he said. "But I know now that I can go there and give it my best."

Maegan Krifchin of Silver Springs, Md., who also is focused on the trials, captured the women's competition in 1:09:47. In second was Neely Spence-Gracey of Boulder, Colo. (1:09:59). Alisha Williams of Golden, Colo., was third (1:10:51).

"Today was all about being aggressive, working on competing," said Krifchin, who topped her best time by more than a minute. "I wanted to push it, keep pressing the whole race."

Not long after the first of nearly 18,000 runners started from Eakins Circle at 7:30 a.m., one of the favorites, Villanova graduate Bobby Curtis, dropped out with a hamstring injury. As a result, on what was a crisp and crystalline morning, Ritchie got to the lead earlier than anticipated and held it the rest of the way.

"What a great course," Ritchie said. "Really beautiful. It was a mix of the city and being out there along the river. And the weather, we couldn't have asked for a better day."

Jake Riley of Rochester, Minn., was second (1:03:26) and Californian Daniel Tapia, who represented the United States in the marathon at the 2013 track and field world championships, was third (1:03:57).

Like Ritchie, the top three women separated early and stayed ahead.

"There was a group of us for about the first four miles," Krifchin said, "but after that the three of us started to stretch it out a bit. The conditions were ideal."

Overall, 24 men and 20 women ran fast enough to qualify for the Olympic trials - 1:05 for the men and 1:15 for the women.

Despite the perfect weather and picturesque course, the winning times were substantially slower than last year in the half-marathon, which was pushed back to Halloween by the late-September visit of Pope Francis.

In 2014, Kenyan Bedan Karoki won the men's competition in 59:23, while Ethiopia's Aberu Kebede ran it in 1:08:38.

@philafitz