NEW YORK - Peter Gilmore (San Mateo, Calif.) finished tenth overall to lead the U.S. men, and Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) was the top U.S. woman as she finished sixth in the women's division at today's ING New York City Marathon. Gilmore ran 2:13:13 for the second fastest marathon of his career while Kastor was timed in 2:27:54.
Marilson Gomes dos Santos (BRA) was the surprise winner in the men's division running 2:09:58 and Jelena Prokopcuka (LAT) successfully defended her women's title in 2:25:05.
Prokopcuka and eventual runner-up Tatiana Hladyr (UKR) worked together to open a 70 seconds advantage over the field at 18 miles before Prokopcuka began to escalate her attempt to be the first repeat women's champion since Tegla Loroupe in 1995. At 35 km Prokopcuka had managed to open a 35 seconds lead over Hladyr which would grow to a 61 seconds gap at the finish at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. Olympic Silver medalist Catherine Ndreba (KEN) finished third in 2:26:58.
Other U.S. highlights in the women's division included successful debut marathons by Katie McGregor (Minneapolis, Minn.) and Samia Akbar (Herndon, Va.) who finished in 2:32:36 and 2:34:14 for ninth and 12th respectively.
In the men's race, dos Santos made a push after 30 km to pull clear of a lead group that included defending champion and World Record holder Paul Tergat (KEN) and 2004 champion Hendrick Ramaala (RSA) and U.S. Olympic Silver medalist Meb Keflezighi (San Diego, Calif.).
With dos Santos' lead growing to as much as 38 seconds at 22 miles, Tergat and countryman Stephen Kiogora began to combine their forces in an effort to chase him down but the Brazilian 10,000 meter champion's gamble paid off as he held on for an eight second win over Kiogora, while Tergat came home in third, running 2:10:10.
Continuing his march through the U.S. ranks, Gilmore, who was in close touch with the lead pack at half way, chose to exercise patience as the leaders began to push the pace up First Avenue before gradually running down U.S. favorites Keflezighi and leading debut marathoner Dathan Ritzenhein (Boulder, Colo.).
As Keflezighi began to fall off the lead pack, struggling with the effects of food poisoning, Ritzenhein was poised to realize his goal of a flourishing debut as he managed to keep the leaders within 15 seconds at 30 km but his hopes of contending for the title were short-lived as he learned the challenges of the marathon. Fading over the final miles, Ritzenhein was overtaken for the top U.S. spot by Gilmore in the final 2 km and finished 11th in 2:14:01.
A total of 10 U.S. athletes qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon with four men and three women making the "A" standard and three women earning the "B" qualification mark.
For more information on the 2006 ING New York City Marathon, visit www.nyrr.org.