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November 3, 2009

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Keflezighi, Tulu claim New York marathon

MEB Keflezighi became the first American to win the New York City marathon since 1982 when he took the men's title in two hours, nine minutes and 15 seconds on Sunday.

Ethiopia's former world and Olympic 10,000 meters champion Derartu Tulu won the women's event through the city's five boroughs in 2:28:52 after pulling away from Russia's Ludmila Petrova in the last quarter of a mile.

Favorite and world record holder Paula Radcliffe finished fourth, limping across the line behind France's Christelle Daunay after setting the pace for much of the race.

Keflezighi, whose previous best finish in a marathon major was second in New York in 2004, broke away from Kenyan Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot with just a few miles to go to take a surprise win.

Cheruiyot finished 41 seconds behind the American, while third place went to former world champion Moroccan Jaouad Gharib, who posted a time of 2:10:25.

"It's very emotional," Eritrea-born Keflezighi, who beat his previous personal best by six seconds, told reporters. "I am just thrilled to be able to win my first marathon ever at the place where I started and on a PR, wearing the USA jersey, it can't get any better. It's just sweet."

Kissed the ground

After he crossed the line, the 34-year-old, who lives in San Diego, California, kissed the ground. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist was one of six Americans to finish in the top 10.

Alberto Salazar was the last American winner of the 42.195-kilometer race.

Briton Radcliffe, competing in her first marathon since winning in the Big Apple last year for the third time, appeared to be in agony as she crossed the finish line and told reporters a twinge in her left hamstring two weeks ago caused her pain throughout the race.

"It was really sore. I could hardly pick up my leg. I was just obviously annoyed and disappointed because I kind of started the race to win it," she said.

Tulu, 37, became the first Ethiopian woman to win the New York marathon.

"I didn't really expect to win but I did know that I could be a good competitor," she said, adding it was not until she had just a few miles to go that she knew she had a good chance.


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