New world record in London Marathon

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2002

LONDON -- Khalid Khannouchi of the United States broke his own world record for the marathon Sunday, winning the London Marathon in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 38 seconds.

Khannouchi set the old mark of 2:05:42 three years ago in Chicago.

Paula Radcliffe of Britain, making her marathon debut, won the women's race in the second-fastest time in history, 2:18:55.

Khannouchi pulled away from Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie over the last two miles . Tergat was second in 2:05:48 with Gebrselassie third (2:06:35) in his elite marathon debut. Two-time London winner Abdelkader El Mouaziz was fourth (2:06:52).

Tergat's time gave him the third fastest marathon in history behind Khannouchi's two.

Radcliffe's time was second only to the world record of 2:18:47 set by Catherine Ndereba of Kenya in Chicago in 2001.

Second place in the women's event went to Russian Svetlana Zakharova (2:22:30) with Russian Lyudmila Petrova third (2:22:32). Japanese Reiko Tosa was fourth (2:22:46).

Khannouchi said he knew it might be a record day.

''I knew if the conditions were right a world record might be there,'' Khannouchi said. ''That was a tough race. With the quality of the field that we had today everyone had to work so hard to win. Thank God I had the strength at the end to win.''

The Moroccan-born Khannouchi dropped to the ground after the race and kissed the asphalt, then said a quick prayer at the finish line, just a few hundred yards from Buckingham Palace.

The pre-race attention had focused on Gebrselassie, who was making his marathon debut after setting 15 world records on the track and winning two Olympic golds and four world titles at 10,000 meters.

Leading for most of the race, Gebrselassie faded badly between the 24-25 mile mark, with Khannouchi and Tergat pulling away. Gebrselassie pushed the pack through the first half and went through in 1:02:47, right on the blistering time he had predicted to set a world record.

Gebrselassie went through 21 miles in 1:40:20, with Tergat and Khannouchi on his shoulder.

The last few miles showed the experience of Khannouchi and Tergat, and must have been especially satisfying for Tergat, who has finished second numerous times to the 28-year-old Gebrselassie, including in the last two Olympic 10,000s.

Gebrselassie ran his only previous marathon as a 15-year-old in Addis Ababa and clocked 2:48.

Radcliffe, the two-time defending half-marathon and world cross-country champion, led from the start on a perfect running day in the British capital.

Running with her bobbing ponytail and trademark wraparound sunglasses, Radcliffe crossed the line to wild cheering from a partisan home crowd.

''My legs are tired, now very tired,'' Radcliffe said. ''I gave it everything I could. I couldn't have gone any faster.''

''I am really pleased with my race,'' she added. ''I felt the first half was slow and then I got great crowd support. I had a bad patch around 18, 19 miles and I just didn't want to blow it.''

Radcliffe, a world-class runner on the track but often just out of the medals, destroyed the field in the first half, clocking 1:11:05 for the first 13.1 miles. She had a 50-second lead at this point.

Through 15 1/2 miles, she clocked 1:23:31 and was on pace to run 2:18:35. By 18 1/2 miles, she was ahead by about two minutes and held that lead crossing the crucial 20-mile mark.

Radcliffe also shattered the London record of 2:21:06 set in 1985 by Norway's Ingrid Kristiansen.

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