Moroccan's early break leaves rest of the field behind

Abdelkhader El Mouaziz of Morocco made a decisive break at the 11-mile mark and proceeded unchallenged to win the New York City Marathon yesterday in 2hr 10min 09sec, a full 2min 21sec ahead of the runner-up, Japhet Kosgei of Kenya. Shem Kororia, another Kenyan, was third in 2:12:33.

Abdelkhader El Mouaziz of Morocco made a decisive break at the 11-mile mark and proceeded unchallenged to win the New York City Marathon yesterday in 2hr 10min 09sec, a full 2min 21sec ahead of the runner-up, Japhet Kosgei of Kenya. Shem Kororia, another Kenyan, was third in 2:12:33.

El Mouaziz's break was believed to be the earliest ever made by a men's champion in the 25 years that the race has been run through the city's five boroughs. He and the 1996 Olympic gold medalist, Josia Thugwane of South Africa, outran the designated pace-setters to take the lead at nine miles. El Mouaziz soon opened a gap on Thugwane at a water stop, and by 15 miles he was already 42 seconds in front.

"I was pushing the pacemaker and when I saw the pacemaker could not do the job I wanted, I went alone," El Mouaziz said.

Kosgei, who had the two fastest marathon times of any entrant, was El Mouaziz's closest pursuer in the race's second half but was not aggressive enough to catch the Moroccan.

In the women's race, Ludmila Petrova, of Russia, ran in tandem with the Kenyan Hellen Kimutai before pulling ahead at the 23-mile mark at the hill in Central Park. Petrova then held off a late charge by the 1998 winner, Franca Fiacconi, and triumphed in 2:25:45 to the Italian's 2:26:03. Margaret Okayo, of Kenya, was third in 2:26:33 as Kimutai faded to fourth in 2:26:42.

"I was concerned about all those great champions in the race," Petrova said. "It is a great honour to beat them in such a great race as the New York City Marathon."

On the eve of the race, at the United Nations, Khalid Khannouchi, the marathon world record holder, received the 2000 Abebe Bikila Award for global contributions to long-distance running. The Moroccan-born Khannouchi, now a US citizen living in Ossining, New York, ran the fastest debut marathon in history when he won Chicago in 1997 in 2:07:10. He won there again in 1999 in 2:05:42, taking 23 seconds off the world record set by Ronald DaCosta in Berlin in 1998.

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