Not even encouragement from eventual winner Derartu Tulu could help Paula Radcliffe overcome a leg injury and take a third consecutive New York marathon title on Sunday.
Race favourite Radcliffe limped across the line in fourth behind Ethiopian Tulu, Russian Ludmila Petrova and Christelle Daunay of France after setting the pace for much of the race.
“She ran alongside me and was like, come on, come on. We can do it, we can do it,” a disappointed Radcliffe told reporters.
“Even when the girls took off she kind of waited with me a bit. But that’s Derartu, She’s always been like that.”
Radcliffe said she had hoped a niggling injury to her left hamstring suffered during training would hold out but the world record holder clutched her knee as she finished in a time of two hours 29 minutes 27 seconds, some 35 seconds behind Tulu.
“It was really sore. I couldn’t hardly pick up my leg,” the 35-year-old said, later adding that she did not think age had caused her injuries this year.
“I’ve had some bad luck this year, but I don’t think it is because I am older.”
Lack of preparation
The Briton had surgery to remove a bunion from her right foot in March.
She won the New York half-marathon in August but a week later decided to withdraw from the marathon at the world championships in Berlin due to a lack of preparation.
Radcliffe pulled out of the world half-marathon championships in England last month with tonsillitis before suffering a twinge in her hamstring two weeks ago in training.
“I didn’t want to say too much about it because I didn’t want people to know that they could maybe run away from me if it started to go,” she said.
Meb Keflezighi became the first American to win the New York City marathon since 1982 when he took the men’s title in two hours nine minutes and 15 seconds.
Ethiopia’s former world and Olympic 10,000 metres champion Tulu won the women’s event through the city’s five boroughs in 2:28.52 after pulling away from etrova in the last quarter of a mile.
Keflezighi, whose previous best finish in a marathon major was second in New York in 2004, broke away from Kenyan Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot with just a few miles to go to take a surprise win.
Cheruiyot finished 41 seconds behind the American, while third place went to former world champion Moroccan Jaouad Gharib, who posted a time of 2:10:25. “It’s very emotional,” Keflezighi, who beat his previous personal best by six seconds, told reporters.
“I am just thrilled to be able to win my first marathon ever at the place where I started and on a PR, wearing the USA jersey, it can’t get any better. It’s just sweet.”
After he crossed the line, the 34-year-old, who lives in San Diego, California, kissed the ground.
The 2004 Olympic silver medallist was one of six Americans to finish in the top 10.
Boy from Eritrea
Alberto Salazar was the last American winner of the 26.2-mile (42.195-km) race.
Keflezighi, one of 11 children who moved as a boy from Eritrea to Italy where he went to high school before relocating to San Diego for college, said American men’s distance running was back to its best after faltering in the 1990s. “We are set and there is more to come.”
Briton Radcliffe, competing in her first marathon since winning here last year for the third time, appeared to be in agony as she crossed the finish line and told reporters a twinge in her left hamstring two weeks ago caused her pain throughout the race.
“It was really sore. I couldn’t hardly pick up my leg. I was just obviously annoyed and disappointed because I kind of started the race to win it,” she said.
Tulu, 37, became the first Ethiopian woman to win the New York marathon.
“I didn’t really expect to win but I did know that I could be a good competitor,” she said, adding it was not until she had just a few miles to go that she knew she had a good chance. (Reuters)