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First U.S. man since 1982 wins NYC race

By Jesse Solomon, CNN
  • Meb Keflezighi finished 26.2-mile race in 2:09:15.
  • Born in Eritrea, Keflezighi emigrated in 1987 to San Diego, California
  • British marathoner Paula Radcliffe came in fourth among women
  • Running
  • Sports

New York (CNN) -- For the first time since 1982, an American man won the New York City Marathon on Sunday.

Meb Keflezighi, 34, broke the tape in the 26.2-mile course with a personal best time of 2:09:15.

Keflezighi emigrated in 1987 to San Diego, California. One of 11 children, Keflezighi fled with his family from war-ridden Eritrea during its bloody conflict with Ethiopia. He became a U.S. citizen in 1998.

He won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics and was the runner-up in the New York marathon that year.

The female champion, 37-year-old Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia, was neck and neck with Ludmila Petrova of Russia until the last leg of the race, when she sprinted ahead to victory with a time of 2:28:52.

Tulu, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 10,000-meter race in 1992 and 2000, won the London marathon in 2001.

The defending female champion, Britain's Paula Radcliffe, took fourth place among women.

Finishing fourth in the men's category was another American, Ryan Hall. Hall, 27, is a rising star on the world running circuit and made headlines last year by running the London marathon in a stunning 2:06:17.

Americans once dominated long-distance running, bringing home consecutive gold medals from 1970-82. Marathon legend Bill Rodgers won the New York City four years in a row from 1976 to 1979, and Alberto Salazar took walked away with successive victories from 1980-82.

The marathon, which began in 1970 with a mere 127 runners, now hosts 38,000 athletes from around the globe, according to the marathon's Web site. Known for its diverse, punishing terrain, the annual event spans all five of New York's City's boroughs, finishing in the heart of Central Park.

Keflezighi and Tulu will each receive $130,000 in prize money.