Brazilian MarÀlson Gomes dos Santos, 29, surprised everybody and made history this Sunday, November 5, in New York, becoming the first South American to ever win that city’s traditional and world famous marathon.
Even though he had won twice (in 2003 and 2005) Brazil’s São Silvestre, a marathon held in São Paulo on New Year’s Eve, it was his first try at New York. He won US$ 130,000 for the victory.
Santos, who was born in Brazilian capital Brasília, but lives in São Paulo, in the southeast of Brazil, arrived confident in New York. Before the run he told reporters: "I want to be one of the first three to arrive and try to win the competition. My aim is the podium."
While the Brazilian runner has won the New York Marathon in his debut in the race, Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia captured her second consecutive women’s crown.
The Brazilian broke away from the lead pack with about 10 kilometers remaining in the 42.2 kilometer race Sunday, then held off a late challenge from Stephen Kiogora of Kenya.
Santos broke the tape in two hours, nine minutes and 58 seconds, while Kiogora was eight seconds behind. Another Kenyan, 2005 champion Paul Tergat, was an additional four seconds back in third place.
In the women’s race, defending champion Jelena Prokopcuka pulled away in the final seven kilometers. The 30-year-old Boston Marathon runner-up crossed the finish line in two hours, 25 minutes and five seconds, one minute in front of Ukraine’s Tatiana Hladyr. Kenya’s Catherine Ndereba was third, one minute and 53 second off the winning pace.
The men’s wheelchair race was won by Australian Kurt Fearnley, who set a course record of one hour, 29 minutes and 23 seconds. American Amanda McCrory won the women’s wheelchair event with a time of one hour, 54 minutes and 17 seconds.
Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong of the United States was one of the celebrities running in the race. In his marathon debut, Armstrong met his goal of finishing in less than three hours, breaking the tape in two hours, 59 minutes and 36 seconds.