|Radcliffe had not raced a marathon for two years [AFP]|
Paula Radcliffe made a triumphant return to marathon racing by winning the New York City marathon in two hours, 23 minutes, nine seconds.
In the men’s race Martin Lel reprised his thrilling victory in the London marathon to win in 2:09:04.
Radcliffe, the world record holder running her first marathon in two years after taking a maternity break and recuperating from injury, beat Gete Wami from Ethiopia after a race-long battle.
“I love this. I really enjoyed being back, full stop, and racing marathons,” Radcliffe said on Sunday after her victory.
Radcliffe and Wami have been rivals for 15 years on the track, in cross-country and on the roads and they waged a two-woman race from the second mile on as they left the other elite runners behind.
Wami ran behind Radcliffe, nudging past for less than 10 seconds in the final stages before the Briton surged head in the final few hundred metres in Central Park.
There was some consolation for the Ethiopian, whose runner-up finish clinched her a $500,000 prize for winning the women’s World Marathon Majors title based on points accumulated in top marathons over the last two years.
|Lel decides to show off with some
push-ups after his win [Reuters]
In contrast to Radcliffe, Wami was running her second marathon in 35 days following her win in Berlin in order to stay ahead of the two-time defending New York champion Jelena Prokopcuka in the World Marathon Majors standings.
“Running a marathon in 35 days and coming in second, I feel was quite an achievement for me,” Wami, who finished 23 seconds behind Radcliffe, said through an interpreter.
“When Paula made the move, I found it difficult to catch up to her. I was feeling some stomach ache.”
Prokopcuka, trying to become the first woman to win three in a row in New York since the nine-times winner Grete Waitz in 1986, finished third in 2:26:13.
The Latvian needed to finish ahead of Wami and in at least third place to overtake the Ethiopian in the standings.
In the men’s race, Lel of Kenya pulled away from Moroccan Abderrahim Goumri in the last few hundred metres heading into Central Park for victory in 2:09:04.
Lel, the 2003 New York winner who outsprinted Goumri to win by three seconds in London earlier this year, was 12 ahead of the Moroccan on Sunday.
“There are many ways of killing a rat,” Lel said about his tactics. “I can say that [Hendrick] Ramaala and Goumri really gave me a hard time.”
Goumri was shoulder to shoulder with the Kenyan as they headed for the Central Park finish but could not match his final kick.
Ramaala of South Africa, the 2004 champion, finished third in 2:11:25.
Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya, who won the Boston Marathon twice in addition to the 2006 Chicago race during this two-year period, had already wrapped up the first men’s World Marathon Majors crown to claim the $500,000 jackpot.