Radcliffe, Gomes dos Santos win New York City Marathon

Nov 2, 2008 - 6:40 PM By Simon Lewis PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Paula Radcliffe once again found New York the ideal place to bounce back from Olympic disappointment as she won the New York City Marathon on Sunday for the third time.

The world record holder from Great Britain led from wire to wire, wearing down the strongest field in the race's 40-year history.

She cruised home unopposed over the final four miles to clock 2 hours, 23 minutes and 56 seconds - 1:47 ahead of Ludmila Petrova of Russia.

"New York is just a place I love to come but it was different this year," Radcliffe said. "The last two times it was really close at the end but I was nice to make it a little bit easier on my husband (and coach Gary Lockett) and help him stay more relaxed."

Kara Goucher of the United States pushed the 40-year-old Petrova down the stretch, but her marathon debut ultimately ended with a third place finish (2:25:53).

Marilson Gomes dos Santos won the men's race, reclaiming the title he first won in 2006. The Brazilian negotiated the 26.2-mile course in 2 hours, 8 minutes and 43 seconds.

Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco, the 2007 runner-up in both New York and London, lost the lead a mile from home and settled for second with a time of 2:09:07. Daniel Rono of Kenya placed third in 2:11:22.

With her victory, Radcliffe became only the second woman to win the race three or more times, trailing only nine-time winner Grete Waitz of Norway.

"To win three is really special to me," Radcliffe said. "To even be one third of the way towards the mark Grete Waitz achieved is amazing."

In both of her previous appearances in New York, the Brit had overcome serious challenges both before and during the race.

In 2004, she held off Susan Chepkemei in the final stretch, just nine weeks after failing to finish the Olympic marathon in Athens.

Last year, she came back from injury to outduel Gete Wami and win her second title, just 10 months after giving birth to her first child.

Her daughter Isla and Lockett were at the finish line Sunday as the 34-year-old once again put Olympic disappointment behind her. She was battling a stress fracture of her femur this summer which resulted in a 23rd place finish in the marathon at the Beijing games.

And on a sunny but chilly 40-degree morning in New York she saw off a field including old rivals Wami, Olympic silver medalist Catherine Ndereba, Petrova, rising stars Rita Jeptoo and Dire Tune and much-vaunted debutantes Goucher and Kim Smith.

Radcliffe had run at the front from the gun, gradually increasing her pace as her rivals fell away.

As the defending champion pressed the pace heading towards the midway point, Ndereba was the most notable name to drop back.

The lead pack went through Queens with Radcliffe still running into a head wind, clocking 1:13:28 for the first 13.1 miles.

Jeptoo was the next to fall off the pace as the leaders came off the 59th Street Bridge and onto Manhattan's First Avenue.

Radcliffe turned the screw again on the 19th mile and Goucher slipped from her shoulder for the first time as Petrova took up second place in the train, followed by Tune and Wami.

The turning point came in the 22nd mile as Radcliffe finally shook off Petrova as the race turned back into Manhattan.

Radcliffe appeared comfortable as she ran alone down Fifth Avenue and pushed the pace, turning in splits of 5:12 and 5:14 before slowing to 5:32 in mile 24.

With no competition to push her, Radcliffe savored the moment as she approached the finish line in Central Park.

"It was tougher out there this year because of the wind," Radcliffe said. "But I was determined to come and run a negative split because last year I started fast and wasn't really as strong in the closing half.

"But it was tough out there in the wind and everyone was running behind me. I knew Kara was there for a long time and Wami and Tune and Petrova, but I just wanted to stay comfortable and be controlled through the first half, I was trying to stay relaxed."

When the race came down to just Radcliffe and Petrova, the British star said she was confident.

"At that point I felt a little more relaxed because even if it came down to a sprint finish I felt I could outkick Ludmila," she said, "But at the same time I wanted to finish my gameplan and finish the race running fast through Central Park."

There was a more dramatic finish in the men's race.

Gomes dos Santos appeared to concede the race to Goumri down the stretch, but then capitalized as his rival unraveled with a mile to go.

Two-time American Olympian Abdi Abdirahman had set an early pace along Brooklyn's Fourth Avenue, tracked by a trio of former New York champions - Hendrick Ramaala, Paul Tergat and Gomes dos Santos. Last year's runner-up, Goumri also was in the mix along with Tergat's Kenyan compatriot Daniel Rono.

A dozen runners were in the lead pack as it approached the halfway mark in Queens.

In the 14th mile, Goumri blew the race apart by hitting the front and splitting the pack with a 4:41 mile. By the time they reached mile 19, the Moroccan's plan was still working as he shadowed Gomes dos Santos with Kenyan duo Tergat and Rono gradually slipping off the pace set by the Brazilian.

It was now a two-man race and Gomes dos Santos put in a surge of his own in the 21st mile to open up a short gap between him and Goumri, but the 2007 runner-up responded well on the bridge from the Bronx into Manhattan, reeling the 2006 winner in and surging ahead.

Goumri looked set for the first marathon victory of his career as he opened up a 9-second lead at mile 24.

Gomes dos Santos, however, kept pressing and when the Moroccan suddenly wilted, his Brazilian rival had enough left to close the gap, racing past Goumri with a mile to go.

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