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Keflezighi Does It! Wins 40th New York City Marathon

Date: 
11/02/2009 - 11:08

Keflezighi_MebM-NYC09rn11-2-09.jpgBy: Parker Morse, Running USA wire - NEW YORK - (November 1, 2009) - The winless streak is over in New York as Meb Keflezighi, 2004 Olympic silver medalist and 10,000m U.S. record holder, became the first American champion of the New York City Marathon since 1982 when he broke away from four-time Boston Marathon champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot and finished in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 15 seconds this Sunday morning. Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia was the women's champion in 2:28:52 at the 40th edition.

Keflezighi's victory caps the best record of any American man in the last decade at the ING New York City Marathon, including a runner-up finish in 2004 and third in 2005. His victory also caps nearly a decade of work by the New York Road Runners to bring U.S. champions back to their flagship race, notably hosting the 2001 USA Marathon Championships and the 2008 U.S. Men's Olympic Trials at the 2007 event and to support training groups such as Keflezighi's. The ING NYCM was the USA Men's Championship race again this year.

It was Keflezighi's first-ever marathon victory in twelve starts, and the UCLA grad ran with the patience of a veteran.

"My wife told me not to take the lead, no matter how good I feel," Keflezighi said. "They make you do all the work."

Running strongly under overcast skies, temperatures in the mid-50s and variable winds and with the pack through the early miles, Keflezighi, 34, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif. ignored a strength-wasting move led by 2004 race champion Hendrick Ramaala on First Avenue, and stayed off the lead even once the field was narrowed to himself and Cheruiyot. Keflezighi finally took the lead, for good, as the pair turned off Fifth Avenue and into Central Park.

"I beat [Cheruiyot] in 2005 here [in New York]," Keflezighi recounted. "With 2 miles to go, I gave a push, and he let me go. I just kept expanding the lead."

Even after breaking away, Keflezighi was holding energy in reserve, enough to quickly cross himself as he passed the spot his one-time training partner and friend Ryan Shay died during the Trials in 2007. Keflezighi finished eighth in that race and later discovered, adding injury to insult, that he had been running with a stress reaction in his hip. That injury contributed to a disappointing 2008, but Keflezighi has been on a tear in 2009, including four national titles and PRs in both marathons he has run (also London). The now 20-time USA champion even dropped to the pavement for a push-up at the finish line.

"It was one [win] for [Shay] and one for me," said Keflezighi, referring to the national title and the coveted NYCM victory (Alberto Salazar was the previous last U.S. race champion when he three-peated in 1982).

For his historic efforts, the two-time Olympian earned $200,000 ($130,000 for first, $40,000 as national champion and $30,000 time bonus).

Cheruiyot finished second in 2:09:56, while two-time world champion Jaouad Gharib of Morocco was third (2:10:25). Keflezighi's Mammoth Track Club teammate Ryan Hall, fourth in 2:10:36, was the runner-up at the 85th USA Men's Championships, and Jorge Torres (2:13:00 debut), Nick Arciniaga, three-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman and Jason Lehmkuhle filled places 7 through 10 to give the USA six runners in the top 10 - the best U.S. finish since 1979.

"I feel all right," said Hall, a 2008 Olympian. "I am disappointed, I didn't run as well as I hoped to, but I'm happy for my teammate, Meb. There were a lot of Americans in the mix late in the race, and that's something Meb and Deena [Kastor] started in 2004 [with their Olympic medals]."

Tulu, 37, two-time Olympic 10,000m champion, outdueled the 2000 NYCM champion Ludmila Petrova in Central Park. After the pair left behind world record holder and defending champion Paula Radcliffe and Frenchwoman Christelle Daunay, Tulu surged on Central Park South after spotting an Ethiopian flag in the crowd and opened an eight-second gap on Petrova by the finish line. Petrova, 41, whose 2:29:00 was well short of the Masters record she set here last year, was second for the second year in a row.

It was Tulu's first marathon win since London in 2001. "I did not come here necessarily expecting to win," said Tulu, who took home $140,000. "I did expect that I would be a strong competitor, and I'm very happy to have won." Tulu finished third in New York in 2005.

Briton Radcliffe was favored to win a fourth ING NYCM crown and her third in a row, but a tendon issue hampered her ability to set the fast early pace she counts on to burn off competition.

"I'm pretty annoyed," she said. "I really thought it was going to be fine."

Radcliffe fronted the pack of four or five throughout the race, and was finally dropped when Petrova took the lead on Fifth Avenue with about 5K remaining to run. Daunay was third in 2:29:16, Radcliffe fourth (2:29:27). Reigning Boston Marathon champion Salina Kosgei, who stumbled and fell in Brooklyn, blamed the resulting pain in her leg for her fourth place finish (2:31:53).

2008 Olympic marathoner Magdalena Lewy Boulet was the first U.S. woman in sixth, running 2:32:17. "It's always a pleasure to be in the top 10," said Lewy Boulet. "New York has a special place in my heart for many reasons."

Triathlete Desiree Ficker was the second U.S. woman in tenth, 2:39:30, while 1984 Olympic Marathon champion and running icon Joan Benoit Samuelson, 52, ran 2:49:09 for 17th.

More than 43,000 runners were expected to finish the race which would shatter the largest marathon record of 38,607 finishers from the 2007 race.

40th ING New York City Marathon: 85th USA Men's Championship
New York, NY, Sunday, November 1, 2009

MEN
1) Meb Keflezighi (USA / CA), 2:09:15, $200,000
2) Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (KEN), 2:09:56, $90,000
3) Jaouad Gharib (MAR), 2:10:25, $55,000
4) Ryan Hall (USA / CA), 2:10:36, $60,000
5) Abderrahime Bouramdane (MAR), 2:12:14, $15,000
6) Hendrick Ramaala (RSA), 2:12:30, $10,000
7) Jorge Torres (USA / CO), 2:13:00, $27,000
8) Nick Arciniaga (USA / MI), 2:13:46, $20,000
9) Abdi Abdirahman (USA / AZ), 2:14:00, $14,000
10) Jason Lehmkuhle (USA/ MN), 2:14:39, $11,000
11) Jackson Kotut Kipkoech (KEN), 2:15:10
12) Peter Gilmore (USA / CA), 2:15:22, $8000
13) Migidio Bourifa (ITA), 2:16:01
14) Mike Sayenko (USA / WA), 2:16:38, $5000
15) Mike Reneau (USA / WI), 2:16:45, $4000
16) Jose Telles De Souza (BRA), 2:17:28
17) Allen Wagner (USA / PA), 2:17:49, $3000
18) Max King (USA / OR), 2:19:11, $2500
19) Mohammed Awol (ETH), 2:19:31
20) Christopher Raabe (USA / DC), 2:19:49, $2000
21) Pat Tarpy (USA / RI), 2:20:43, $1500
24) Brett Winegar (USA / WA), 2:23:11, $1000
25) Bryan Morseman (USA / NY), 2:23:50, $1000

WOMEN
1) Derartu Tulu (ETH), 2:28:52, $140,000
2) Ludmila Petrova, 41, RUS, 2:29:00, $68,000
3) Christelle Daunay (FRA), 2:29:16, $40,000
4) Paula Radcliffe (GBR), 2:29:27, $25,000
5) Salina Kosgei (KEN), 2:31:53, $15,000
6) Magdalena Lewy Boulet (USA / CA), 2:32:17, $10,000
7) Buzunesh Deba (ETH), 2:35:54, $7000
8) Serkalem Biset Abrha (ETH), 2:37:20, $5000
9) Yuri Kano (JPN), 2:39:05, $1000
10 Desiree Ficker (USA / TX), 2:39:30, $500

Complete results and more at: www.INGnycmarathon.org

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