NEW YORK (AP) — The 16th mile of the New York City Marathon was the last step of Haile Gebrselassie’s storied career.
The world-record holder announced his retirement after dropping out of the race on a day that featured the rise of a new Ethiopian star. Countryman Gebre Gebremariam won the men’s title in his marathon debut.
Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat was another surprise winner, while Shalane Flanagan, making a marathon debut of her own, became the first American woman in two decades to finish second.
Gebrselassie pulled out on the Queensboro Bridge with a right knee injury.
“I never think about to retire. But for the first time, this is the day,” he said. “Let me stop and do other work after this.”
Trying to complete the 26.2 miles was rescued Chilean miner Edison Pena, who jogged the tunnels while trapped underground.
The 26-year-old Gebremariam became the first man to win New York in his marathon debut since Rod Dixon in 1983. The 2009 cross-country world champion pulled away from Kenya’s Emmanuel Mutai in the 24th mile to win in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 14 seconds.
“New York is New York — it’s so special for me just to finish,” Gebremariam said.
Another Kenyan, Moses Kigen Kipkosgei, was third. Defending champion Meb Keflezighi of the United States finished sixth.
The 31-year-old Kiplagat won her first major marathon title in 2:28:20.
Flanagan, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in the 10,000 meters, was 20 seconds back. Kim Jones in 1990 was the last American woman to finish in the top two.
Kenya’s Mary Keitany, also making her marathon debut, was third.
More than 45,000 runners started the 41st edition of the race through the city’s five boroughs.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)