Meb wins ING New York City Marathon to lead six Americans in top 10


Jill Geer
Chief Public Affairs Officer
USA Track & Field

NEW YORK - Proudly pointing to the bold "USA" written across his singlet and giving thumbs up to the Central Park crowd, Meb Keflezighi on Sunday became the first American man since 1982 to cross the finish line first at the ING New York City Marathon. He was joined by five additional American men in the top 10 in a banner day for US. men's distance running.

The 2004 Olympic silver medalist ran a brilliant strategic race, pulling away from four-time Boston Marathon Champion Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya in the final two miles to win in a personal-best time of 2:09:15. After finishing, he dropped down for a push-up and broke into tears before being greeted by his mother, wife and two daughters. "The memory of Ryan Shay is what I cried for," Meb said, referring to his American teammate who died in Central Park while running the Olympic Trials two years ago, the last time Meb ran in New York.

The win gave Keflezighi the USA marathon championship and his fourth national title of 2009, and he became the first American man to win in New York since Alberto Salazar's 1982 victory in 2:09:29. He earned a total prize-money payday of $170,000, including $130,000 for the overall win and an additional $40,000 for the U.S. title. He also finished atop the USA Running Series rankings for 2009, earning an additional $6,000.

In one of the strongest men's fields ever in New York, Cheruiyot placed second, 41 seconds back in 2:09:56, with Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion Jaouad Gharib of Morocco third in 2:10:25. In total, Sunday's field included 14 men with personal bests under 2:10, including two-time New York champion Marilson Gomes dos Santos and 2004 champion Hendrick Ramaala.

Ryan Hall placed fourth overall in 2:10:36 to take second in the USA championship race, with Jorge Torres 7th overall in his marathon debut, in 2:13:00. Among Americans, Nick Arciniaga was eighth overall in 2:13:46, Abdi Abdirahman ninth in 2:14:00 and Jason Lehmkuhle 10th in 2:14:39, putting six Americans in the top 10 for the first time since 1979.

"It's a great day for American running and for USA Track & Field," said USATF CEO Doug Logan. "Based on the consistent upswing in our long-distance performances, we knew it would only be a matter of time until our men won another major marathon. We applaud Meb, and all our athletes today, for a great race. I promise that we will not have to wait 27 years for another victory."

Late-race surge

The men's lead pack went out at a modest pace, running a roughly 5:10 per mile for the first two miles. As the pace gradually quickened, five Americans stayed with the lead pack - Meb, Hall, Torres, Abdirahman and Bolota Asmerom. Meb and Hall led the pack through 11 miles in 54:38 as Abderrahime Bouramdane of Morocco, the 2008 Boston Marathon runner-up, threw in periodic surges that eventually were covered by the pack.

Coming onto Manhattan's First Avenue, at 16 miles, Ramaala led a break of four men that quickly returned to a 10-man pack. Abdirahman briefly took the lead in the 17th mile, after which point the lead pack began to string out.

A 4:37 split for mile 18 whittled the lead group to six, with Meb the lone American as Abdi, Hall and Torres fell back to eighth, ninth and 10th. Past 30 km, it became a four-man race, with Cheruiyot, Bouramdane, Meb and James Kwambai of Kenya, Cheruiyot's training partner and a past runner-up at Berlin, Boston and Rotterdam.

Meb made his move at 35 km, covered in 1:47:20, with only Cheruiyuot following him. The two men first ran shoulder-to-shoulder before Meb tucked in behind the tall Kenyan. A few minutes later, Cheruiyot motioned for Meb to take leading duties, but the experienced American wasn't having it.

Having placed second in New York in 2004 and third in 2005, Meb was running for the win.

When he moved to the lead at mile 24, reached in 1:58:23, he intended not to relinquish it. He had four seconds on Cheruiyot, and that margin only increased as the finish neared.

Running alone for the final stretch in Central Park, Keflezighi celebrated his first career victory at the marathon distance, paid tribute to Shay, and celebrated the return of Americans to the top of the podium.

Tulu wins women's race

In a race that was expected to be little more than another coronation for world record holder Paula Radcliffe, Ethiopia's Derartu Tulu emerged a surprise winner. With a conservative pace from the gun, the women's lead pack eventually whittled down to Christelle Daunay of France, Ludmila Petrova of Russia, Radcliffe and Tulu. It was a quartet of experience, with all four women over 34: Daunay is 34, Radcliffe 35, Tulu 37 and Petrova 41.

Struggling with tendonitis behind her knee , Radcliffe began to flag in the final miles, and it came down to a two-woman race between Petrova and Tulu, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and one-time bronze medalist at 10,000 meters. Shortly before turning into Central Park, with about 600 meters remaining, Tulu pulled away to win in 2:28:52, with Petrova second in 2:29:00 and Daunay third in 2:19:16. Radcliffe was fourth in 2:29:27. Magdalena Lewy Boulet was the top American woman, placing sixth in 2:32:17.

Joan Benoit Samuelson on Sunday became the fastest female marathoner over age 50, finishing in 2:49:09. The 52-year-old's performance came 25 years after she became the first women's Olympic marathon gold medalist at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

For complete results from the ING New York City Marathon, visit

For more on USATF and the USA Running Circuit, visit

About the USA Running Circuit

The USA Men's Marathon Championships was the final race on the 2009 USA Running Circuit (USARC). The USARC is a USA Track & Field road series, featuring USA Championships from 5 km to the marathon and attracts the best U.S. distance runners.

The USARC is a USA Track & Field road series featuring USA Championships from one mile to the marathon, which attracts the best U.S. distance runners. The 2009 USARC has ten events each for men and women. The first ten U.S. runners earn points at each USARC race (15 for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1), with a final $12,500 grand prix purse ($6,000, $4,000, and $2,500) for the top three men and women point scorers overall. The USARC points at the USA Marathon Championships were doubled.

The mission of the USA Running Circuit is to showcase, support, and promote U.S. runners. Since its inception in 1995, the USARC and its races have provided over $6 million dollars to U.S. distance runners.