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.
[Photo: Meb Keflezighi shown winning a recent race, the Rock N Roll San Jose Half-marathon in 2009]
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.
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