American Wins NYC Marathon, First in 26 Years

November 1, 2009 Updated: November 1, 2009

NEW YORK—Mebrahtom Keflezighi became the first American in 26 years to win the New York City Marathon, two years after finishing eighth and fracturing his hip in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon trials for the Beijing Olympics, in what was thought to be a career ending injury.

Known as Meb, Keflezighi finished with a personal best time of 2 hours, 9 minutes, and 15 seconds.

Born in Eritrea, a peninsular nation on the eastern side of Africa, Keflezighi grew up in San Diego, California, and became a naturalized citizen in 1988.

The last American to win the New York Marathon was Alberto Salazar in 1982.

In addition to taking first place in the marathon, there were six other Americans finishing in the top ten.

Thirty-seven-year-old Derartu Tulu, from Ethiopia, took home the win for the women’s race, finishing in 2 hours, 28 minutes, and 52 seconds.

Russian born Ludmila Petrova, winner of the 2000 New York Marathon, finished in second place in the women's division.

The New York Marathon, the largest of all marathons by number of participants, has been conducted every year since 1970, and is held on the first Sunday in November.

It was originally organized by the New York Road Runners Club President Vince Chiapetta and Fred Lebow who also ran in the Marathon that first year.

The initial route, which looped Central Park several times, was redrawn by Lebow in 1976 to trace through all five boroughs of New York City.

In subsequent years the event would only grow larger and larger with the current number of spectators for the event at over two million.

In 2000 a wheelchair and hand cycle division was incorporated.

This year’s marathon was completed in the absence of any fatalities, an element which added much controversy to last year’s event, which saw the death of three marathon participants.