Paula Radcliffe shattered her world record for the marathon by almost two minutes yesterday, finishing in 2 hours 15 minutes 25 seconds to win the London Marathon for the second straight time.
The 29-year-old Briton lowered the mark she set just six months ago in Chicago by 1:53. Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, the previous world record holder, was second in 2:19:54.
"There was a lot of pressure, and people were talking about the times I was going to run," Radcliffe said. "I went through halfway way faster than I had planned to, even if I felt good."
Deena Drossin of the United States was third in 2:21:16, surpassing the previous American record of 2:21:21 set by Joan Benoit at Chicago in 1985. Susan Chepkemei of Kenya was fourth.
The women's marathon mark has been broken four times in the last 21/2 years, and six times since 1998. Tegla Loroupe of Kenya set a world record of 2:20:47 five years ago in Rotterdam, and the standard now has fallen by more than five minutes since.
London Marathon organizers put eight male pacesetters into the women's race, making it a "mixed" field eligible for world records, according to the IAAF, track and field's governing body.
The race was run with light winds and a starting temperature of 50 degrees that edged up to 60 by the finish.
"Everyone said that London could not be a fast course. But I knew from last year it was," Radcliffe said. "We got a good day, and the wind was behind us more than it was in front and we have proved it is a fast course."
The current men's and women's marathon records both were established in London, which is not regarded as an unusually quick 26.2-mile course.
"I think what it does have is the best fields," Radcliffe said.
Her performance overshadowed a thrilling men's race, in which the winning time was more than two minutes off the world record set last year by Khalid Khannouchi of the United States. He pulled out of this year's race with tonsillitis.
Olympic and world champion Gezahegne Abera of Ethiopia beat Stefano Baldini of Italy in a sprint. Abera and Baldini were each clocked in 2:07:56 after a finish that resembled a 100-meter dash. Joseph Ngolepus of Kenya was next, just one second back, followed by countryman Paul Tergat.
The 29-year-old Radcliffe pulled clear of the field at the start and clocked 5:10 on her first mile, which was, almost to a second, her average pace. Radcliffe's time at the midway mark was 1:08:02, 1:19 ahead of Constantina Dita of Romania. Chepkemei was nine seconds behind Dita, and the next seven runners were more than two minutes behind Radcliffe.
* ROTTERDAM: William Kiplagat pulled away from fellow Kenyan Josephat Kiprono over the final half-mile to win in 2:07:42.
It was Kiplagat's first victory over 26.2 miles.
Kiprono, the Rotterdam champion two years ago, finished second in 2:07:53. Jose M. Martinez of Spain was third in 2:08:09.
Olivera Jevtic, running for Serbia and Montenegro, won the women's race in 2:25:23, almost a minute ahead of Hiromi Ominami of Japan.
The race came in sunny conditions and light winds with an almost ideal temperature of 57.