NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Nov. 2, 2009: A 34-year-old African immigrant and a 37-year-old Ethiopian woman are the winners of the prestigious ING New York City marathon.
Photo: Meb Keflezighi, in the USA jersey, on the right, running with the lead group as they turn onto lafayette street, off of Flatbush Ave, in Brooklyn, New York, Sunday November 1, 2009. (Hayden Roger Celestin image)
Naturalized American citizen, Eritrea-born Mebrahtom `Meb` Keflezighi, won the NYC Marathon in a personal best time of 2:09:15. Keflezighi was the first American citizen to win the marathon since 1982.
He and his family were refugees from Eritrea via Italy to the United States. The top runner became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1998, the same year in which he graduated from UCLA. Boston Marathon winner Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya was second while meanwhile, Ethiopian Derartu Tulu beat back favorites Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain and Ludmila Petrova of Russia to win the women`s race, in a time of 2 hours 28 minutes 52 seconds. She also made history by becoming the first woman from Ethiopia to win the race.
Tulu, a member of the Oromo ethnic group who grew up tending cattle in the village of Bekoji in the highlands of Arsi Province, beat out Petrova for the top spot while Christelle Daunay of France was third and Radcliffe was forced to settle for fourth after dropping away from a three member pack during mile 22. Tulu`s cousins Ejegayehu Dibaba, Tirunesh Dibaba and Genzebe Dibaba are all successful international long-distance runners, continuing the successful athletic history of the Oromo people.
She is the first Ethiopian woman to win a medal in the Olympic Games. Tulu is also the first woman from Africa to win an Olympic gold medal. Her 1992 Olympic gold medal launched her career.