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Mary Keitany wins third straight NYC Marathon in rout; Molly Huddle makes podium

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NEW YORK — Mary Keitany received two phrases of advice from her 3-year-old daughter before the New York City Marathon on Sunday.

Good luck, young Samantha said. Try not to fall down.

Keitany told her she would try her best.

Several hours later, Keitany brisked through Central Park for her third straight New York City Marathon title, with the largest winning margin since 1984.

Samantha and her son, 8-year-old Jared, were waiting.

“When I crossed the line, she [Samantha] was happy,” the 34-year-old Keitany said. “Ultimately, I was happy, too.”

The Kenyan Keitany became the first runner to win three straight New York City titles since Norwegian Grete Waitz won five of her record nine from 1981 through 1986.

Keitany finished in 2:24:26, which was 3 minutes, 34 seconds ahead of runner-up and countrywoman Sally Kipyego. The margin was another feat of dominance not seen since the great Waitz.

MORE: NYC Marathon Results

Keitany pulled away in the 15th mile and ran alone for the rest of the race, putting a stamp on a previously frustrating year.

As Samantha remembered, Keitany fell during the London Marathon on April 24 and finished ninth. It marked the first time she placed lower than fourth in 29 career half marathons and marathons.

Regardless, Keitany, the second-fastest female marathoner of all time, felt she had earned a place on the three-woman Kenyan Olympic marathon team for Rio based on her other recent results. Yet she was passed over in favor of three less-accomplished runners, one of whom placed 86th in Brazil and another not finishing at all.

“I was disappointed,” Keitany said of the Olympics last week. “So let me just focus on the marathon for New York and come to defend my title.”

Kipyego, a 2009 Texas Tech graduate, was reminded of her own disappointment upon arriving in New York. The 2012 Olympic 10,000m silver medalist made her marathon debut here last year but dropped out around the 23rd mile and reportedly told her coach, “Sign me up for the next one.”

“This was kind of a redemption year,” said Kipyego, who failed to make the Kenyan Olympic team for Rio.

American Molly Huddle had Kipyego in her sights in the final miles in Central Park on Sunday. The two-time U.S. Olympian on the track, in her marathon debut, was surprisingly spry at the end of the race.

Huddle was in fourth place, 29 seconds behind third-place Kipyego at the 21-mile mark. But second-place Joyce Chepkirui was fading. Kipyego eventually caught Chepkirui, and then Huddle did with about one mile left.

Huddle closed on Kipyego, too, but ran out of pavement, finishing 12 seconds behind the runner-up in 2:28:13.

Still, she became the first American runner to make the New York City podium since Shalane Flanagan in 2010 (Abdi Abdirahman made the men’s podium about a half-hour later).

Huddle said she was “flailing” the last 10 miles. Afterward, she repeated her plans to return to the track next year, but she may focus on road racing after that.

“It was a big step in learning how to race the marathon,” said the 32-year-old Huddle, who broke Flanagan’s American record in the 10,000m at the Rio Olympics, finishing sixth. “Really happy to be third.”

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Tommy Ford ends U.S. men’s World Cup drought at Beaver Creek

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Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup win at age 30 and ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

Ford won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday, the last North American race on tour this season. He prevailed by eight tenths of a second combining times over two runs.

“It doesn’t beat doing it here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford, in his 86th World Cup start dating to 2009, said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “No secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing.”

Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen were second and third. American Ted Ligety, fourth after the opening run, finished 11th.

Full results are here.

Ford became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup since Travis Ganong took a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017. He also became the first U.S. male podium finisher since Ligety in January 2018. Both were the longest droughts for the program since the late 1990s.

Ford, a 2010 and 2018 Olympian who missed the 2014 Olympics due to a broken femur, had been working toward this moment.

He finished a World Cup career-high fourth at the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27. Last season, the Oregon native and former Dartmouth student had a pair of fifths.

The men’s World Cup moves to Val d’Isere, France, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom.

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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