A single zero-emissions 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car served as pace car for the world renowned New York City Marathon, held this morning in crisp, sunny autumn weather.

Its presence slightly reduced the exhaust that surrounded the lead racers as they covered the 26.2-mile, five-borough course amid a flotilla of camera trucks, NYPD motorcycle escorts, and other motor vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines.

As 26-year-old Ethiopian runner Gebre Gebremariam crossed the finish line to win the men's class, he was surrounded by at least five internal-combustion engined vehicles. Gebremariam won the race in his marathon debut, logging a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 13 seconds.

A similar group accompanied Edna Kiplagat of Kenya, the women's winner--who had previously won the 2010 Los Angeles Marathon. Her time was 2 hours, 28 minutes, and 19 seconds.

As an invited crowd waited in bleachers on both sides of the finish line, the Nissan Leaf sped silently up the final hill and stopped just short of the finish line.

NYC Marathon CEO Mary Wittenberg climbed out, along with another race official and Brian Clark Howard of The Daily Green, who had spent the entire race in the Leaf and tweeted some of his observations along the way.

Earlier in the week, the Leaf electric car drew attention wherever it went in New York, helped by the bright blue wrap with Marathon and "electric car" logos and slogans all over it.

Among other swag, the Leaf street team handed out long-sleeved t-shirts with the obvious marketing slogan on the back: "The 100% Electric Nissan Leaf. Run Hard. Breathe Easy."

Or as nine-time NYC Marathon winner Greta Weitz said to Howard during her ride in the Leaf, "It's very important for runners to have clean air."

Here's hoping for more zero-emissions vehicles to surround marathon runners in future years.

[photos by Dave Provost]

Nissan provided access to the VIP enclosure at the finish line so High Gear Media could bring you this first-person report.