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Tergat, Prokopcuka Win New York 2005

NEW YORK – (November 6, 2005) – In an era when marathons around the world have focused on the ever more elusive quest for faster times, doing everything, but building downhill courses with aiding wind machines, the ING New York City Marathon hews to the old fashioned value of head-to-head competition, let the times fall where they may. That philosophy has produced some stirring races, rather than paced time trials, but none more stirring than on Sunday morning.

New York 2005

New York 2005

“The men just beat the hell out of each other,” said New York Road Runners CEO Mary Wittenberg, whose first turn as race director saw the closest men’s finish ever.

In a reprise of the famous Rod Dixon-Geoff Smith “Duel in the Rain” of 1983, world record holder Paul Tergat barely held off defending champ Hendrick Ramaala, who hit the deck a la Smith as he dove to catch Tergat at the finish line. A single second (2:09:30 vs. 2:09:31) separated the two, halving the previous closest margin of victory, set in 1994 when German Silva overcame a wrong turn in the final mile to best Benjamin Paredes.

American Meb Keflezghi, second here last year, was third, followed by Kenya’s Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot and Abdi Abdirahman. That marked the first time since 1993 two Americans have placed in the top 5 at New York. Keflezighi’s 2:09:56 and Abdirahman’s 2:11:24 (a personal record by 5:45) are the two fastest marathon times recorded by U.S. men this year.

Under warm (62F) and somewhat humid, at times foggy, conditions, a large lead group of men raced through halfway, which was reached in 1:04:55. The real racing began, as it often does, as the course climbed the Queensboro Bridge and entered Manhattan.

By the time they hit First Avenue and the race’s largest and loudest crowds, it was being whittled down to four, with Ramaala doing most of the winnowing with a 4:22 mile 17 split. “I wanted to thin out the race, get it down to the serious contenders,” he said.

The principles thus identified, the quartet raced through Manhattan and into the Bronx, with Keflezighi, Ramaala and Cheruiyot taking turn in the lead, Tergat content to sit behind after being gapped and then rejoining the group on First Avenue.

“I’ve raced Paul for many years, so I know his tactics,” said Ramaala. “He sits in the back and dominates the race from behind. When he came back, I knew we were in for a tough race, he wouldn’t give up without a fight.”

Ramaala proved prescient, and the pace stayed strong as the group reentered Manhattan, with Cheruiyot the first to fall off. The remaining three continued together into Central Park, a virtual replay of last year’s race. This time, Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic Marathon silver medalist, was the first to falter, bothered by a calf cramp at 24 miles. “Considering all I’ve been through this year [several injuries that limited his marathon buildup to seven weeks] I’m delighted, third place is not bad.”

Ramaala and Tergat matched strides and surges through the final mile, with the ultimate outcome in doubt until the former lunged two strides before the finish – he was non-committal about whether it was a dive or a stumble – and Tergat had the win.

“When I hit the tape, that was the first time I knew I would win,” said the five-time world cross country champion who earned $125,000. “The last thing I was expecting was a sprint finish, but from 24 miles on I knew that was what was going to happen. The last 400 meters were very painful.”

The women’s race, while only the third closest ever, was one of the most thrilling, with multiple lead changes for much of the race before Latvia’s Jelena Prokopcuka – who Wittenberg dubbed “our secret weapon” – swept past Susan Chepkemei (2:24:55) and Derartu Tulu (2:25:21) in the final miles for a 2:24:41 victory and a $160,000 prize.

“Our women showed how gutsy, determined and talented they are,” said Wittenberg, adding that “for the second year in a row they had us hanging by our fingertips.” Chepkemei, second last year by three seconds to Paula Radcliffe in the closest women’s finish in race history, was undone this time by a bout of vomiting just past 22 miles.

“When I saw that, I got confident I could win,” said Prokopcuka, who had battled side stitches of her own from the 10K point.

“I wasn’t expecting Jelena to catch us, but I knew it was possible,” said Tulu, who was fourth in the World Championships marathon in August. Salina Kosgei (2:25:30) and Bruna Genovese (2:27:15) rounded out the top five. Jen Rhines, the top American in 18th (2:37:07), said she was never comfortable and able to find a rhythm.

“In my wildest dreams I didn’t think we’d see races like this,” said Wittenberg. “We did the work and put the fields together, but it’s up to the athletes to perform on race day. But this solidifies what I think you can expect from New York going forward” – in short, loaded fields and lots of exciting, head-to-head racing.

source Jim Gerweck RunningUSA

Men’s and Women’s Top 30 Results

New York, NY, Sunday, November 6, 2005

1. Paul Tergat, Kenya, 2:09:30, $125,000 plus a Smart Car
2. Hendrick Ramaala, South Africa, 2:09:31, $70,000
3. Meb Keflezighi, USA/CA, 2:09:56, $85,000
4. Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, Kenya, 2:11:01, $25,000
5. Abdi Abdirahman, USA/AZ, 2:11:24, $35,000
6. Alberico DiCecco, Italy, 2:11:33, $10,000
7. Viktor Roethlin, Switzerland, 2:11:44, $7,500
8. Simon Wangai, Kenya, 2:13:19, $5,000
9. Jon Brown, Great Britain, 2:13:29, $2,500
10. Isaac Macharia, Kenya, 2:14:21, $1,000
11. Matt Downin, USA/NJ, 2:14:28
12. James Kibocha Theury 2:14:59 Kenya KEN
13. John Henwood 2:15:05 New Zealand NZL
14. Robert Cheboror 2:15:24 Kenya KEN
15. Christopher Cheboiboch 2:15:34 Kenya KEN
16. Mark Saina 2:15:35 Kenya KEN
17. Pete Gilmore 2:16:39 CA USA
18. Ryan Shay 2:17:14 MI USA
19. Kassahun Kabiso 2:18:58 NY ETH
20. Antoni Pena 2:20:40 Spain ESP
21. Noriaki Igarashi 2:20:59 Japan JPN
22. Vito Sardella 2:21:15 Italy ITA
23. Steve Moreno 2:22:36 CA USA
24. Barry Keem 2:24:25 Australia AUS
25. Jose Ramon Torres 2:24:55 Spain ESP
26. Abraham Assefa 2:25:32 CO ETH
27. Orest Babyak 2:26:22 NY USA
28. Manuel Anta 2:26:51 Spain ESP
29. Jonas Buud 2:26:56 Sweden SWE
30. Peder Troldborg 2:26:58 Denmark DEN

1. Jelena Prokopcuka, Lativa, 2:24:41, $160,000 plus a Smart Car
2. Susan Chepkemei, Kenya, 2:24:55, $95,000
3. Derartu Tulu, Ethiopia, 2:25:21, $65,000
4. Salina Kosgei, Kenya, 2:25:30, $50,000
5. Bruna Genovese, Italy, 2:27:15, $25,000
6. Ludmila Petrova, Russia, 2:27:21, $20,000
7. Gete Wami, Ethiopia, 2:27:40, $17,500
8. Lidiya Grigoryeva, Russia, 2:27:48, $15,000
9. Lyubov Denisova, Russia, 2:28:18, $7,500
10.Lornah Kiplagat, Kenya, 2:28:28, $6,000
11. Tatiana Gladyr 2:29:34 Ukraine UKR
12. Olesva Nurgalyeva 2:29:35 Russia RUS
13. Yelena Nurgalyeva 2:32:36 Russia RUS
14. Dulce Maria Rodriguez 2:33:19 Mexico MEX
15. Nuta Olaru 2:33:49 Romania ROM
16. Marie Davenport 2:33:59 CT IRL
17. Malgorzata Sobanska 2:35:19 Poland POL
18. Jen Rhines 2:37:07 CA USA
19. Olena Plastinina 2:40:10 NY UKR
20. Zoila Gomez 2:41:43 CO USA
21. Annie Kugler 2:43:16 NY USA
22. Risa Mizutani 2:44:15 Japan JPN
23. Nathalie Vasseur 2:45:58 France FRA
24. Alice Braham 2:46:47 Great Britain GBR
25. Paola Ventrella 2:49:11 Italy USA
26. Susan Loken 2:49:32 AZ USA
27. Victoria Ganushina 2:51:02 NY USA
28. Sophie Gardon 2:51:38 French Polynesia PYF
29. Deirdre Brill 2:52:17 PA USA
30. Edie Perkins 2:52:43 NY USA

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