The early morning rain had stopped, the sun peeked out from behind a wall of gray, and coastal fog began to clear as the mercury climbed toward 60 degrees.

A perfect day for a marathon.

Still, Moninda Marube sensed something amiss. His feet, from above his ankles to the tips of his toes, refused to warm up properly. They felt numb.

“I was not feeling myself,” he said. “I was stepping down and I feel like my feet are so big.”

His thin black shorts, as it turned out, also gave him problems with chafing between his thighs. All of which contributed to him abandoning thoughts of a course record before he had even reached the halfway point.

Even so, Marube managed to maintain his lead Sunday and won the 23rd Maine Marathon in 2 hours, 29 minutes, 56 seconds. This was the third straight year and the sixth time in race history that the winner broke 2:30.

“It’s not an impressive time,” he said. “I feel so bad about it, but you know, it happens.”

Chris Harmon, 26, of Portland was three minutes behind in second place (2:32:55). A graduate of Scarborough High and the University of Maine, Harmon made his marathon debut Sunday.

“I had a pipe dream of catching Moninda,” Harmon said, “but I knew there wasn’t enough (race) left. Maybe if it had been an ultra-marathon.”

Leah Frost, 31, successfully defended her women’s title and lopped nine minutes off her time to boot. She finished in 2:51:53 and, like Marube, collected first-place prize money of $1,000.

“I was worried about it being rainy, but it was perfect,” said Frost, who now lives in northeastern Vermont. “There was one woman I passed and then there was one woman ahead of me but she turned around for the half marathon. After the turnaround, I had the biker (escort) the whole way.”

Frost wore a white racing shirt that read Smash The Patriarchy on the back and Museum Of Everyday Objects on the front. The museum, as it turns out, resides in a friend’s barn in Glover, Vermont.

“We feature everyday life objects,” Frost said. “This year’s featured exhibit is the toothbrush. Last year we did the pencil. The year before it was the safety pin.”

Not just any toothbrush makes the cut. There’s one in the shape of a naked lady, another that twists up like lipstick, and several from around the world. Frost, who works at the museum and does other odd jobs in addition to helping coach a high school cross country team, said next year’s object has yet to be determined.

“There’s a couple strong contenders,” she said. “The one that’s really being talked about is dust.”

About seven minutes behind Frost was runner-up Michelle Lilienthal, 32, of Portland, who used the race as her last long training run before next month’s New York City Marathon. She finished in 2:58:46 and had to remind herself early in the race not to chase Frost.

“I saw her go out and thought, ‘I’m not going to be dumb here,’” said Lilienthal, a two-time Olympic Trials marathoner who won the Maine women’s race in the Beach to Beacon 10K two months ago. “I probably took it out harder than I normally would, but it felt good.”

Both Lilienthal and Harmon won $500 for second place. Third place, worth $250, went to Christine Twining, 39, of Brunswick (3:07:22) and Chris Peverada, 27, of Albuquerque, New Mexico (2:36:17).

Robert Ashby, 46, of Brunswick and Karen Fogg, 47, of York won their respective masters categories, in 2:45:27 for Ashby and a little over 3:21:06 for Fogg. Their prize money was $250 apiece.

As for Marube, he said his feet finally felt comfortable in Mile 9, but by then he already was three minutes off the record pace of Dan Vassallo, who set the 2:21:12 standard two years ago.

“Running a fast pace without a course record is useless to me,” said Marube, who plans to run the Santa Barbara Marathon in California next month. “That’s why I decided not to kill myself.”

Documentary filmmaker Ramsey Tripp of Lewiston sat on the back of a motorcycle to shoot footage of Marube for much of the race. They are collaborating on a project involving the challenges Marube has faced in both Kenya and the United States and his attempts to help children of limited means in the Lewiston-Auburn area through summer and afterschool running programs.

After finishing Sunday morning, he embraced several youngsters wearing gray T-shirts proclaiming them Chestnut Street Champions.

“What kept me going was the cause,” Marube said, “the cause of running the marathon, of Escape From Freedom (the name he chose for the project). “That’s what gave me reason to continue running at the end, when I was ready to give in because I was feeling a lot of pain.”

Marathon and Half-Marathon results