LONDON -- Deena Kastor worried her London Marathon was going
The 33-year-old American was alone in the lead after 15½ miles,
hadn't slipped on the slick, rainy roads and was on target to break
her U.S. record with a sub-2-hour, 20-minute marathon.
"I had the fear of Chicago creeping back as the miles ticked
on," Kastor said, referring to her first marathon win last year.
"My last three miles being horrendously slow."
There was no need for Kastor to worry. She finished in 2:19:35
to beat Lyudmila Petrova of Russia and Susan Chepkemei of Kenya in
cool, drizzly conditions Sunday. Felix Limo out-sprinted defending
champion Martin Lel to take the men's race in 2:06:39.
Kastor set the old American mark of 2:21:16 in her only other
London Marathon in 2003, when she finished third. She also became
the eighth woman to run under 2:20.
At the 20-mile mark, where Kastor says she gauges "if it's a
good or bad day, I just felt really great."
Kastor needed 1:09:48 to complete each half of the 26.2-mile
marathon. Her quick pace helped the five women who finished after
her run personal bests.
"I knew the last 10K would be successful," she said. "I kept
doing the math, I kept looking at my watch at every mark and making
sure I was going to get under it."
Kastor, who won Olympic bronze in the marathon in Athens, is the
fourth woman to hold the Chicago and London titles at the same time
-- along with Ingrid Kristiansen, Paula Radcliffe and Joyce
Petrova caught Chepkemei in the final miles, finishing in
2:21:29. Chepkemei followed in 2:21:46.
In the early going, Kastor, Chepkemei and Salina Kosgei broke
away with two male pacemakers in the first 1.8 miles. The three
opened a 17-second gap after 3.1 miles and extended it to 36
seconds after 6.2 miles, where Kosgei slipped and fell.
Kosgei dropped out of the lead pack an hour into the race.
Kastor broke away after 15½ miles, taking the two pacemakers with
her, and wasn't challenged for the rest of the race.
She hit her left hand on a table while trying to get her water
bottle at the 21.7-mile mark but wasn't hurt.
"My coach thought I was feeling so good that I was just going
to forgo my water bottle, but I actually didn't see it until the
last minute," Kastor said.
In the men's race, Limo and Lel ran side by side for the final
1.2 miles before Limo made a break with the finish line in sight.
Lel was two seconds back and Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa was
third in 2:06:55.
Seven men ran under 2:08 -- the most of any marathon ever raced.
"I had to use my brain to win that race," said Limo, who had
an egg thrown near his feet midway through the race. "I felt good,
although the conditions were not great. But when the conditions are
not perfect, you have to use your brain as well as your legs."
Limo, Lel, Ramaala, Haile Gebrselassie, Khalid Khannouchi, Evans
Rutto and Rodgers Rop were in the main bunch for most of the race.
Lel, Limo, Rop and Ramaala made a break at 23.6 miles. At the
24.8-mile mark, Lel and Limo were running alone in the lead to set
up the sprint finish. Gebrselassie, who has made his name on the
track but set the world half-marathon record in January, finished
ninth in 2:09:05.
Limo won the Berlin and Rotterdam marathons in 2004 and last
year's Chicago Marathon. This was his first London Marathon.
The men's and women's record holders -- Paul Tergat and Radcliffe
-- didn't run because of injury.