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Okayo Breaks New York Marathon Record

November 2, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ Kenya’s Margaret Okayo set a course in winning the New York City Marathon for the second time, dropping to her knees and kissing the ground after crossing the line.

Okayo shattered her course record by nearly two minutes, finishing in 2 hours, 22 minutes, 31 seconds.

She set the course record in 2001 in 2:24:21. The next two finishers also beat the previous course record.

Reigning world champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya was second in 2:23:04, followed by countrywoman Lornah Kiplagat in 2:23:43.

Despite warm temperatures of 61 degrees and a light wind, Okayo won against one of the strongest NYC Marathon fields.

Nine runners were bunched through the first half of the race, including Okayo, Kiplagat, former winner Ludmila Petrova, Ndereba and 2002 NYC Marathon winner Joyce Chepchumba.

At the halfway mark, the women were on pace to set the record after finishing the first 13.1 miles in 1:12.04.

Okayo, Kiplagat and Petrova pulled away from the front-running back at the 17-mile mark. Ndereba started to make a move around mile 18. With Kiplagat opening a small lead over Okayo, Ndereba passed Petrova for third.

But Okayo turned it on. She overtook Kiplagat for first and then cruised to victory. She finished fifth last year after having back problems throughout the race.

Ndereba was attempting to join Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway as the only women to win in New York, Boston and Chicago.

It was not a good day for the American women. Marla Runyan, who finished fourth in New York last year, was among the leaders early. But she tangled with Ndereba at a water station between miles 7 and 8 and fell behind. At the 10-mile mark, she was 30 seconds off the pace.

Runyan was fifth in Boston earlier this year. She wanted to finish in the top five in New York.

Christy Nielsen-Crotts dropped out at the 15th mile and Jen Rhines pulled out at mile 22.

Julio Rey withdrew after twisting his right ankle while reaching for water at the first station around the 4-mile mark. He stepped awkwardly and fell, clutching his ankle. Rey, who was attempting to become the first Spaniard to win in New York, finished second in the world championships this past summer.

A field of 35,104 started the race.

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