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Kenyan heads for NYC after GNR triumph.

MARTIN LEL believes he can achieve his next major task of winning the New York Marathon on November 1 after his brilliant win in yesterday's Bupa Great North Run.

Lel will travel to the United States determined to lift a third "Big Apple" title, which would match his tally of victories in the Flora London Marathon.

The 30-year-old Kenyan was massively disappointed when a hip injury prevented him making it a fourth London win last April, but now believes he is firing again on all cylinders.

Lel, who narrowly missed his three-year-old lifetime best by two seconds when clocking 59 minutes 32 seconds in the Newcastle to South Shields half marathon, insists he is in mint condition.

The man who beat fellow Kenyan Kiplimo Kimutai by 12 seconds and Moroccan Jaouad Gharib by 32, said: "The race told me everything I wanted to know, it was tough and against some strong rivals but I managed to get out of it what I wanted."

Lel, whose last race was at the Lisbon half marathon in March, when he beat Gharib, added: "A win was very important having not raced for many months although I was not certain beforehand what might happen.

"But everything went to plan and having a testing race was what I needed. There were no problems with my hip and with a little more intensive training I will be ready for New York."

Jessica Augusto could not believe it when six world class Africans failed to respond when she and Nikki Chapple broke clear after three miles in the women's event.

Augusto became the first Portuguese to lift the women's title, achieving "the greatest victory of my career" on the 13.1-mile course.

The 27-year-old had the race sewn up when 2006 winner Berhane Adere commenced a belated challenge and went on to finish well ahead of Ethiopia's former world half marathon gold medallist by 34 seconds in a time of 69:08.

She said: "I knew I was in good shape but with so many good Ethiopians and Kenyans here I didn't expect to get a medal - and I was surprised when they did not challenge me when I pulled away.

"This is the biggest win of my career and to also run my fastest half marathon time is something I am really happy with."

A great day for Portugal was completed when Augusto's team-mate Ana Dulce Rosa took third place, also in a lifetime best of 69:4. The wheelchair races saw David Weir and American Amanda McGrory set new course record times of 41:34 and 49:47 respectively.

CAPTION(S):

WINNER: Augusto
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 21, 2009
Words:438
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