Adriana Nelson, née Pirtea (born January 31, 1980 in Bucharest) is a Romanian American long-distance runner who made her marathon debut in the Chicago Marathon held on October 7, 2007, with a second-place finish. She led by a few dozen meters in the final 300 meter stretch run down Columbus Drive on a day of record-setting 88 °F (31 °C) temperatures, but she was caught just before the tape by the defending Chicago Marathon women's champion, Berhane Adere. Pirtea had held a 30-second lead with 600 meters remaining but never looked back as Adere slipped down the right side of the final straightaway under the shield of male runners. Adere was so far to the right that as she crossed the finish line she did not take the tape which was being held at the left side of the finish line. The 2007 Chicago Marathon was the slowest women's Chicago finish since 1992 due to the heat. Pirtea had been a pacemaker at the January 28, 2007, running of the Osaka Ladies Marathon, and an injury prevented her from making her marathon debut at the London Marathon on April 22, 2007.
She became the Romanian national champion in both the 5K (2006 & 2007) and 10K (2007). She graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2005. Pirtea has run the half marathon in 1:09:57 and placed 10th at the World Half Marathon Championships held on October 1, 2005, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. This tenth-place finish contributed to the Romanian team gold medal at the World Half Marathon Championships in which 2004 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon Women's Champion Constantina Tomescu-Dita placed first for the Romanians, Mihaela Botezan placed 5th and Nuța Olaru placed 8th.
Pirtea had been the silver medalist in the 3,000-meter run at the NCAA Championships. At the NCAA Championships, she had been the #2 seed, but was run down in the final lap by #4 seed Renee Metivier. Like the 2007 Chicago Marathon, the 2005 NCAA 3000 was run at a relatively slow pace. Pirtea had finished 16th in the event as a junior in 2004.
On September 29, 2009, Adriana and her husband, Jeremy Nelson, finished second and first, respectively, in the 13.1 Mini-Marathon in Calumet City, Illinois, with times of 1:12.28 and 1:12.29. Adriana Pirtea won a Suzuki Splash car at the XIVth edition of the Romanian Lottery Cross. The competition took place in Bucharest on October 3, 2011.
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