(CNN) -- Paula Radcliffe's reign as New York City Marathon champion ended on Sunday as the world record holder could only finish fourth behind Ethiopian veteran Deratu Tulu.
After six months on the sidelines recovering from bunion surgery, three-times champion Radcliffe, who also won the race in 2004 and 2007, was running her first marathon since winning this race 12 months ago.
The 35-year-old had also missed the world championship marathon in Berlin in August and then sat out the world half-marathon championships in Birmingham last month due to a bout of tonsilitis.
In windy conditions, the Briton had led from the gun but the relatively slow pace meant she had been unable to shake off her rivals.
And, at 23 miles, she was dropped from the leading quartet as Russia's Ludmila Petrova took off followed by Tulu and France's Christelle Daunay.
Two-time Olympic 10,000-meter champion Tulu, 37, first shook off Daunay and then the dogged Petrova as she turned for home at the 26-mile mark and won the race in two hours 28 minutes and 52 seconds, eight seconds ahead of the Russian with Daunay third in 2:29:16 holding off a late Radcliffe rally, the Briton finishing fourth in a time of 2:29:27
There was a milestone victory in the men's race as Meb Keflezighi became the first American since Alberto Salazar in 1982 to win in New York, shaking off four-time Boston champion Robert Cheruiyot over the final three miles to take victory in a personal best 2:09.15.
Cheruiyot, from Kenya, clocked 2:09:56 with two-time world champion Jaouad Gharib of Morocco third in 2:10:25 and another American, Ryan Hall fourth in 2:10:36 as six Americans finished in the men's top 10.