Norway's Ingrid Kristiansen, tiring over the final stages, held on grimly Sunday and won the London Marathon for the second straight year, in a world record of 2 hours 21 minutes 6 seconds.
The 29-year-old Norwegian housewife smashed American Joan Benoit's previous best of 2:22:43 by more than 1 1/2 minutes.
Kristiansen's victory over the 26-mile, 385-yard course from Greenwich in southeast London to Westminster Bridge was worth $75,000, one of the biggest payoffs in marathon history. She earned a $50,000 bonus for breaking Benoit's mark, $15,000 for finishing first among the women, and $10,000 for lowering the course record.
Benoit, the 1984 Olympic champion, set her world best in the 1983 Boston Marathon. She has not run a marathon since last summer's Olympic Games.
Although Kristiansen finished nearly 13 minutes behind the men's winner, Steve Jones of Wales, she was exactly seven minutes ahead of the women's runner-up, Britain's Sarah Rowell. Jones, who had held the men's world best of 2:08:05 until Saturday, when Olympic champion Carlos Lopes of Portugal won the Rotterdam Marathon in 2:07:11, was timed in 2:08:16, a course record.
Kristiansen said: "I was looking at my watch all the way. I wanted to break it (Benoit's mark) from the start."
For most of the race, Kristiansen was on a pace that would have put her under the elusive 2:20 barrier. "But in the last seven kilometers (4.34 miles), I slowed down and lost one minute," she said.
Jones, a 29-year-old corporal in the British Royal Air Force, made a valiant bid to reclaim the No. 1 spot.
He ran the fifth-fastest marathon ever, breaking the course mark of 2:09:24, set in 1982 by Hugh Jones, no relation. But he was 65 seconds behind Lopes' time.
The next three men's finishers also were under the old course record.
Olympic bronze medalist Charlie Spedding of Britain, the 1984 winner, finished second in 2:08:34. He was followed by countryman Allister Hutton in 2:09:16 and West German Christophe Herle in 2:09:23. The top American was Pat Petersen, sixth in 2:11:23.
With two miles remaining, Jones appeared to be in trouble with cramps. Spedding was able to break away, but Jones recovered and overtook the 32-year-old Spedding.
Jones said: "The last four miles were very hard. I suffered a bit and had to slow down."
A disappointed Spedding said: "I feel very strange to have taken a minute off my best time and still lost the race."
Among the 15,500 runners was a 50-year-old Norwegian, who had a heart transplant operation 15 months ago. Kjell Scharer, a former pilot from Oslo who already has run a half-marathon, was accompanied by his wife Ellen.
WOMEN'S ALL-TIME MARATHON LIST
Time Name Country Year 2:21:06 Ingrid Kristiansen Norway 1985 2:22:43 Joan Benoit United States 1983 2:25:29 Allison Roe New Zealand 1981 2:25:29 Grete Waitz Norway 1983 2:26:01 Rosa Mota Portugal 1984 2:26:26 Julie Brown United States 1983 2:26:52 Kathrin Dorre East Germany 1984 2:27:40 Lisa Martin Australia 1984 2:27:51 Patty Catalano United States 1981 2:28:06 Sarah Rowell Britain 1985