NEW YORK – Maybe this will make up for her Olympic heartbreak.
Britain's Paula Radcliffe surged ahead in the final feet Sunday to win the tightest New York City Marathon in history in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 10 seconds — less than three months after pulling out of the Athens Games just a few miles from the finish.
Radcliffe edged Kenya's Susan Chepkemei (search) by 4 seconds to become the race's first non-Kenyan women's champion since 2000. The previous record for closest women's finish in New York was 5 seconds, Wanda Panfil's (search) margin over Kim Jones in 1990.
The men's race wasn't nearly as thrilling, with Hendrik Ramaala (search) of South Africa winning in 2:09:28 for his first marathon victory. Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi of the United States was next across the finish, 25 seconds behind.
Radcliffe and Chepkemei ran side by side for the final 5 miles, but Radcliffe made one final push under cascading autumn leaves to pull out the improbable victory. She decided just two weeks ago to run in New York, hoping to get back to the form that earned her a world best over 26.2 miles last year in London.
And she did just that, becoming the first British woman to win the race through New York's five boroughs since Liz McColgan in 1991.
Russia's Lyubov Denisova was third in 2:25.18.
In Athens, Radcliffe had a leg injury that forced her to take anti-inflammatory drugs. The medicine, combined with stress and worry, was too much for her stomach to handle, and she withdrew, sitting on a curb and sobbing uncontrollably.
Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor (search) dropped out of the lead pack around the eighth mile Sunday and then fell at the bottom of the Queensborough Bridge around the 16th mile. She was not seriously injured but had to pull out of the race, giving up her bid to become the first American woman to win the race since Miki Gorman in 1977.
Kenya's Michael Rotich, the fifth-ranked marathoner in 2003, dropped out of the men's race early and was taken to the hospital. Race organizers didn't have any immediate word on his condition.
France's Benoit Zwierzchiewski also dropped out. He fell about 20 minutes in, while running in the lead pack and pulled out a short time later. American Bob Kennedy withdrew with about 8 miles left.