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African Runners Take Top Spots at New York City Marathon

  • Victoria Cavaliere

Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia celebrates after winning the professional men's division at the New York City marathon in New York, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010.

Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia celebrates after winning the professional men's division at the New York City marathon in New York, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010.

Two African runners took the top honors at the New York City Marathon on Sunday. And the world record holder dropped out more than half way through the race, and announced his retirement.

From the start, crowds cheered Ethiopian Gebre Gebremariam to victory in the men's race - his marathon debut. He pulled away from challengers in the last hilly stretch to finish in two hours, eight minutes, 14 seconds.

In the women's race, Kenyan Edna Kiplagat took the title, finishing in 2 hours, 28 minutes, 20 seconds.

Ethiopian world record holder Haile Gebrselassie pulled out of the race about two-thirds of the way through because of problems with his right knee. He announced his retirement a short time later. "I don't want to complain anymore after this, which means it's better to stop here. I did very hard training to win this race. It didn't work," he said.

More than 44,000 people competed in this year's marathon.

Runners trekked 42.2 kilometers across all five boroughs of New York City - starting in Staten Island, winding through Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan - finishing in Central Park.

One of the most recognized faces in the field this year was Edison Pena - one of 33 Chilean miners rescued last month after spending 69 days trapped underground. Pena earned the nickname "the runner" from his fellow miners because he ran about 10 kilometers a day through the tunnels to keep his mind and body fit.

Pena had a grueling race, suffering from knee pain and fatigue. He finished the course in a little less than six hours. Speaking before the race, Pena told reporters why he trained in the collapsed mine. "I was going to beat destiny. I was going to turn tables on destiny. I was saying to that mine, I can outrun you. I can just run until you are tired and bored of me. And I did it," he said.

This was the 41st running of the New York City Marathon.

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