THE BRONX - (AP)- Paula Radcliffe defended her title at the New York City Marathon on Sunday to become the second woman to win the race three times.

Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil won the men's race for thesecond time in three years, passing Abderrahim Goumri of Moroccowith about a mile to go.

On a cool, windy day, 38,377 runners started the race.

Unlike Radcliffe's tight victories in 2004 and '07, the worldrecord holder from Great Britain pulled away from Ludmila Petrovain the 22nd mile to win comfortably in two hours, 23 minutes, 56seconds.

"I was thinking about two miles to go, at least it's a bitcalmer for (husband) Gary this year than it was the last twotimes," Radcliffe said.

Finishing behind Radcliffe were a veteran proving she can stillkeep up with younger runners and a marathon rookie showing she canrace with the best in the world.

The 40-year-old Petrova was second in 2:25:43, the oldest womanto finish in the top two since Priscilla Welch of Great Britain wonin 1987 at the age of 42.

Kara Goucher took third in 2:25:53, becoming the first Americanto make the podium since Anne Marie Letko was third in 1994. Sheposted the fastest time in a marathon debut by an American woman,breaking Deena Kastor's mark set in this race in 2001.

Gomes won in 2:08:43. Goumri settled for the runner-up spot forthe second straight year in 2:09:07, and Daniel Rono of Kenya wasthird in 2:11:22.

Grete Waitz won the race a record nine times, the last in 1988.

The NYC Marathon was again the site of a stirring comeback forRadcliffe. As in 2004, she rebounded from a disappointing Olympicperformance with a victory. Last year, she won her first marathonsince the birth of her daughter less than 10 months earlier.

Radcliffe has won eight of the 10 marathons she has started -all but her two Olympics, when she was thwarted by health problemsboth times.

"It does make it frustrating because you think, 'Why can I getit right all the time in New York and I can't get it rightthere?"' Radcliffe said. "But sometimes you have to take whatlife gives you."

Radcliffe led nearly the entire race, taking the initiative toset the pace as her competitors tried to use her as a shield toprotect them from the wind.

"I looked back, and it was just like everybody was in singlefile behind me," she said with a laugh. "It was like, 'Come on,we've got the whole road."'

Russia's Petrova, the 2000 NYC Marathon champ, set a Mastersworld record for runners 40 and over, breaking Welch's mark set inLondon in 1987. Petrova was fifth at the London Marathon this year.

Goucher's coach has long believed that she's a natural for themarathon. He should know - Alberto Salazar won three straight NYCMarathons from 1980-82.

It was an emotional day for Goucher, running in the city whereshe was born and where her father was killed by a drunk driver justbefore she turned 4.

"I was so excited to run here and sad that it's over," shesaid. "It was awesome."

Gomes keeps finding magic in New York, where he's captured hisonly two major marathon titles. He was a surprise winner in 2006before finishing eighth last year.

Goumri pulled away from Gomes in the 22nd mile and appearedheaded to his elusive first major marathon title. Instead, hefinished in the top three for the fourth time in 19 months. Gomes fell behind by about 10 seconds, but when he made hismove, he blew right by Goumri.

"You never lose hope," Gomes said.

Irina Mikitenko of Germany won the $500,000 World MarathonMajors title after Gete Wami and Catherine Ndereba failed to clinchthe prize Sunday. Wami, the 2007 NYC Marathon runner-up, would havewon for the second straight year if she finished in the top two,but she was sixth.

Ndereba needed to place first to have a chance, but she wasfifth.

A vote by World Marathon Majors race directors broke a tiebetween Mikitenko and Wami. Martin Lel of Kenya had alreadyclinched the men's title. Lel was unable to defend his NYC Marathonchampionship because of a foot injury.