LONDON, England (April 23, 2006) - In a landmark performance for U.S. distance running, Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor became the first American woman to run a marathon under 2 hours, 20 minutes as she won Sunday's Flora London Marathon in a new U.S. record of 2:19:36.
Kastor's time bettered her own American record, set here in 2003 by 1 minute, 40 seconds, making her the fourth fastest woman of all-time and the eighth ever to run under 2:20.
"It was great to win and great to break 2:20, those were my goals coming here this weekend the last three months of preparation have been with this moment in mind," said Kastor. "I'm really happy with the race."
The day began under a cool, light rain, making conditions nearly ideal as Kastor almost immediately settled in to 5:20 per mile pace with only Susan Chipkemei and Salina Kosgei of Kenya willing to follow closely.
Shortlybefore 10 km Kosgei slipped as she reached for her water bottle and though she would regain contact with the leaders, would soon lose contact and fade to eighth-place.
Passing half-way in 1:09:48, Kastor was in complete control with Chipkemei on her shoulder, where she would manage to stay through 25 km before eventually fading to third behind Ludmilla Petrova of Russia. Petrova was timed in a national record of 2:21:29, while Chipkemei finished in 2:21:46.
Khannouchi back in form
In his first marathon in 18 months, American record holder Khalid Khannouchi returned to the international marathon stage as he finished fourth in 2:07:04. It is his fastest marathon since he set the then-world record in London in 2002, when he ran 2:05:38.
Khannouchi fell off the leaders afterthe halfbut managed to reconnect with them by 35 km and looked to be in position to win his second Flora London title. However, by 40 km, 2005 champion Martin Lel of Kenya and countryman Felix Limo had opened a six-second gap on Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa while Khannouchi slipped three-seconds behind the 2004 ING New York Marathon champion.
Making the final turn in front of Buckingham Palace, Lel had his sights on a second London title but Limo had one gear left as he kicked home for the win in 2:06:39 with Lel two-seconds behind. Ramaala finished third in 2:06:55 and Olympic marathon gold medalist Stefano Baldini of Italy finished 18-seconds behind Khannouchi to round out the top-five in 2:07:22.
For more information visit www.london-marathon.co.uk.