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SA stars fade in NY

There wasn’t much to write home about for South Africans in Sunday’s New York Marathon.

Our two main flag-bearers both failed to make an impact on the hugely popular city marathon. Former champion Hendrick Ramaala (2004) dropped out just after the halfway mark and wheelchair legend Ernst van Dyk could only manage an eighth spot.

Ramaala wasn’t the only big name casualty in the event as world recordholder Haile Gebrselassie also failed to finish his debut New York Marathon.

It was also the finishing act to a star-studded career as the tiny 37-year-old Ethiopian announced that he was hanging up his running shoes. This after struggling with a knee injury in the build-up to the race.

However as one Ethiopian was calling time on his career, another was putting his hand up in the shape of Gebre Gebremariam who, also running his debut marathon, clocked 2hr 08min 14sec.

Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat, winner of the Los Angeles marathon earlier this year, won the women’s race in her debut NY Marathon, clocking 2:28:20.

Back to Van Dyk though and the tough Paarl athlete has made no bones about the fact that of all the big city marathons, New York is the one he finds most difficult.

He clocked 1:47:10 on Sunday, just shy of 10min behind British winner David Weir (1:37:29). Still, Van Wyk at least has the satisfaction of having won in New York previously, victorious in 2005. And in the United States’ other major marathon, the Boston Marathon, Van Dyk is untouchable having logged his ninth triumph earlier this year.

The race also had its touch of human drama with Chilean miner Edison Pena completing the race ahead of his six-hour goal. Less than a month ago he was still trapped 700m underground before being rescued after 69 days.