Gebremariam triumphs

Kenya's Kiplagat pips hosts hope Flanagan for womens crown

Gebremariam, the 2009 world cross country champion, ran with easy grace through the last hilly stretch in Central Park to pull away from Emmanuel Mutai for a comfortable win in two hours eight minutes 14 seconds. "I'm so happy here for my first time," Gebremariam, 26, told reporters. "My first marathon and I'm number one here."

Kiplagat, winner of this year's Los Angeles Marathon, also waited until the latter stages in Central Park to use her strong stride to claim victory in 2:28:20. American Shalane Flanagan and Mary Keitany of Kenya, both running their maiden marathons, followed Kiplagat over the finish line.

Flanagan, the Olympic 10,000 metres bronze medallist, clocked 2:28:40 with world half-marathon champion Keitany a further 21 seconds adrift.  Mutai, also runner-up in London, finished more than a minute behind Gebremariam in 2:09:18 in the men's race, with Moses Kigen Kipkosgei of Kenya taking third place in 2:10:39. Ethiopian world record holder Haile Gebrselassie, 37, pulled out of the race after the halfway stage because of problems with his right knee.

The day was ruled by Gebremariam, the first marathon debutant to win the New York race since New Zealander Rod Dixon in 1983. He shared the podium with Mutai, 26, and Kipkosgei, 27.

"New York is New York," a smiling Gebremariam said at the finish line. "It's so special for me, even just to finish only. I'm so happy. So, so happy. Nobody expected for me to win." Both the men's and women's races followed similar patterns with the lead packs thick with runners for most of the first half of the 42.195 kms test that began in windy and chilly conditions for the more than 45,000 runners taking part.

One of the most keenly watched among the multitudes was another debutant, rescued Chilean miner Edison Pena, who ran and walked the distance, putting ice packs on both knees as he made his way through the five boroughs to tremendous cheers. Pena finished in 5:40:51.

The races boiled down to three runners in each field, with the winners decided during the last Central Park stages. "I had to wait to the final moments," Kiplagat said. "I waited until there was a little flat and put in more effort," she said.

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