NEW YORK (AP) — Mo Farah of England outsprinted Gebre Gebremariam in the final 200 meters of the NYC Half-Marathon on Sunday, edging the Ethiopian by 2 seconds in a scintillating finish along Manhattan’s West Side Highway.
The British runner raced past and then held off Gebremariam, the 2010 New York City Marathon champion, and American Galen Rupp to cover the 13.1-mile course in 1 hour, 23 seconds. Gebremariam placed second in 1:00:23 and Rupp third in 1:00:30.
“I know (Gebremariam) has a great kick to the finish,” Farah said. “As we got closer to the line, I thought he would come with me, but I said to Galen, ‘Let’s do this thing.”‘
Caroline Rotich won the women’s race in 1:08:52, pulling away from fellow Kenyan Edna Kiplagat in the last mile. Kiplagat, also the reigning NYC Marathon champion, crossed in 1:09:00 and American Kara Goucher was third in 1:09:03.
The race was a confidence builder for Goucher, who is preparing for the Boston Marathon next month after returning to racing only recently following the birth of her son, Colt, less than six months ago.
“I feel so relieved,” Goucher said. “Now I feel like I can really pull this out. I felt great.”
Goucher ran her first marathon in New York in 2008, finishing third in the fastest marathon debut by an American woman. She also finished third in Boston in 2009 and won a bronze medal in the 10,000 meters at the 2007 world championships.
Farah, Rupp and Goucher are all coached by three-time NYC Marathon champion Alberto Salazar. Farah and Rupp were making their pro debuts at the half-marathon distance.
Rupp had a nasty fall early in the race when he clipped defending champion Peter Kamais of Kenya, sending both down.
“Past the initial shock, I tried to calm down and relax, relax,” Rupp said. “I told myself that I am back up there, nothing serious injured and have to save energy for the finish.”
The race drew a deep international field, including Yuri Kano of Japan, who was invited to compete after the Nagoya International Ladies Marathon was canceled in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami March 11.
“The people in New York really welcomed me and cheered out my name to encourage me. I would to return to run in New York again,” said Kano, who finished 21st in 1:14:59. “I can’t express how much it helps the people in Japan to know that people around the world are supporting them.”
Organizers said 10,225 runners started the course that took them on a loop through Central Park, down Seventh Avenue through Times Square, across 42nd Street, and along the West Side Highway to Battery Park.
The winners earned $20,000 out of a total prize purse of $100,000.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)