Sweet Victory For Marathoners

Winning must be especially sweet for Joseph Chebet and Adriana Fernandez. Both came in second at last year's New York City Marathon, but this year they're sharing the winner's circle.

Chebet of Kenya, the runner-up the past two years, used a powerful finishing kick Sunday to outduel Portugal's Domingos Castro, becoming the first marathoner to win in Boston and New York in the same year since Alberto Salazar in 1982. Kenyans have won in New York the last three years.

"He tried to push me hard, and I tried to push him very hard," Chebet said.

Fernandez, who also finished second last year, easily won the women's division. The Mexican had a time of 2:25:06, the second-fastest in the race's history.

"I am very, very happy," she told CBS News Correspondent Mark McEwen. "This is very important for my career. It was a life dream to win the New York City Marathon."

On a blustery day and running in a field of some 30,000 competitors, Fernandez was followed by Catherine Ndereba of Kenya in 2:27:34, Katrin Dorre-Heinig of Germany in 2:28:41 and defending champion Franca Fiacconi of Italy in 2:29:49.

Chebet and Castro, more renowned as a track runner, ran side-by-side for about a mile until Chebet took command with about 1 3-4 miles to go. Between miles 24 and 25, he put in the fastest mile of the race, 4 minutes, 43 seconds.

Adriana Fernandez raises her arms in victory.
Chebet, runner-up to countryman John Kagwe in 1997 and 1998, was timed in 2:09:14, He thwarted Kagwe's bid to become only the third male to win New York three straight years. The only two were Salazar, from 1980-82, and Bill Rodgers, from 1976-79.

Kenyan men took five of the first 10 places, with Shem Kororia third, Kagwe fifth, Elijah Lagat sixth and Simon Biwott eighth.

After last year's heartbreaking loss, when he was beaten by three seconds, Chebet said he would change his tactics.

"It's hard to take second-place finishes so often," he said.

His strategy worked perfectly Sunday.

Castro was timed in 2:09:20.

For the first half of the race, the quartet of 1994-95 champion German Silva of Mexico, Robert Stefko of Slovakia, Leonid Shvetsov of Russia and Joao Ntyamba of Colombia did their job as pacesetters.

They ran consistently, reeling off miles of just under 5 minutes, while protecting the elite runners from the brisk 20-30 mph headwinds.

Then, after the 13.1-mile point, all the pacers dropped out except for Silva, who continued on until between miles 17 and 18. He then put on a big spurt, before jumping onto the caera truck.

The mile between 13 and 14 was the slowest, 5:05, and the pace remained slowed for the next two miles before the leaders began attacking.

Finally, with just more than two miles left, it came down to a battle between Castro and Chebet, with Kagwe dropping back.

Chebet received $50,000 for winning plus a car and $20,000 bonus for going under 2:10:00. Fernandez also earned $50,000 plus a car and $25,000 for running under 2:26:00.

The city's Emergency Medical Services said 55 people were treated for minor injuries during the marathon. One woman who never started the race was hospitalized for an unidentified condition.