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(506) 223-1327              Published Monday, Nov. 5, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 219                  E-mail us
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hostel party
A.M. Costa Rica/Elise Sonray
Julia Gluth and Coral Pendell clown around as Ice and Fire at a Hostel Pangea Halloween fiesta.
Hostels are much more than just a cheap place to stay
There are more facets to hostels than just a cheap place to sleep, according to our survey for the benefit of potential visitors.

Reporter Elise Sonray visited and even stayed overnight in a number of San José area hostels to bring readers a special report. She found that
hostel goers seek travel information, inside tips and companionship, as well as inexpensive lodgings.

And there is a certain amount of freedom that might not be available at the traditional hotel
See her report HERE!



Approval to send 150 officers for training also sought
Berrocal, others in U.S. seeking funds to fight drugs

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The security ministry said Sunday that a number of top law enforcement officials, including the minister, have traveled to the United States, in part to meet with the U.S. military's Southern Command, which is in charge of stopping drug shipments headed north. They are expected to seek funds.

The ministry said that the principal purpose of the six-day visit was to finalize plans for 150 Fuerza Pública officers to attend police academies in the United States. One stop for Fernando Berrocal Soto, the minister, will be a meeting with directors of police academies in the State of Georgia.

Another reason for the visits is to strengthen the Sección de Guardacostas, the coast guard, and the Sección Aérea, said the release from the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. The Costa Rican coast guard and the Fuerza Pública air units are part of the effort against drug trafficking in the Pacific and the Caribbean.

Berrocal was quoted as saying that his agency wants to put into service the 18 fastboats that have been confiscated from Colombian narcotraffickers. He said he also wants to construct a new base of operators for the marine units in Caldera on the Gulf of Nicoya. He also said that he hopes to obtain more helicopters.

Berrocal and his staff were joined by Mark Langdale, the U.S. ambassador, on the trip, said the ministry. There was no word from the U.S. Embassy about the trip.

Berrocal will be meeting with Joseph L Nimmich, a U.S. Coast Guard rear admiral and director of the anti-drug Joint Interagency Task Force South. He also will meet with Admiral James G. Stavridis,
commander of the U.S. Southern Command.

A meeting also is planned with Col. Gilberto Perez, commandant of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, said the ministry.

Also with the group is José Torres, a vice minister in the office of President Óscar Arias Sánchez. Roberto Solórzano, director general of the Dirección de Intelligencia and Seguridad, Costa Rica's CIA, also is along, suggesting that drugs might not be the only topic. 

From Berrocal's ministry are Alan Solano, director of the Policía de Control de Drogas, Martín Arias, director of the Guardacostas, and Oldemar Madrigal, director of the Sección Aérea.

The United States sought to put in an advanced police academy in Costa Rica and signed an agreement to do so in 2002. But opposition developed and the Asamblea Legislativa let the plan die. A prime force against the idea was the Partido Liberación Nacional, which is the party of Arias and Berrocal. At the time, those opposed to the plan said they were afraid that U.S. law enforcement agencies would recruit Costa Ricans who attended the regional academy and gain inside information on local officials.

Berrocal has been proud of the 55 tons of drugs that his officers have confiscated during his administration of the law enforcement ministry.

The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation is located in Georgia at Fort Benning. This is the former School of the Americas that provided training to many high-ranking Latin military officers. Walter Navarro Romero, the director of the Fuerza Pública in the Abel Pacheco administration, is attending that institution on a two-year scholarship.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 5, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 219

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Bagaces era pots
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto photo
Some of the ceramic containers recovered

Costa Rican clay containers
returned home from U.S.

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. woman turned over to Costa Rican officials 14 pre-Columbian ceramic containers that she had received as a gift. The archaeological pieces were turned over to the Museo Nacional Friday by the foreign ministry.

The containers are from 300 to 800 years after Christ, said the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto whose Washington, D.C., diplomatic staff recovered the articles.

Francisco Corrales, museum director, said that the containers come from a period known as Bagaces, and under the tribal organization current at that time such pieces were used as offering vessels at burials.

There were few additional details about the woman who returned the pieces. She was only identified as Mary Kay Becker and she received the archaeological pieces as a gift, said the ministry.

Here's the luckiest victims
in the history of tourism


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Where is a good place to hide money while bathing at Playa Hermosa? The Policía Turística reported that a U.S. couple stashed $10,300 in cash in their Suzuki while they went to the nearby beach Saturday.

The pair was identified as Melissa Grace and Phillip Hemion, and police managed to catch three suspects and recover the money after the predictable theft from their vehicle.

Police said that the pair saw three persons break into their car, but by the time they arrived at the vehicle, the trio had fled in another automobile. But the Policía Turística said they stopped a car matching the description provided by the U.S. couple near Jacó. The money was recovered.

Two of the suspects, both men, are Colombians living in Costa Rica as refugees, said the Policía Turística. They were identified by the last names and ages of Cortés Rojas, 67, and Castaño Valencia, 30. The third suspect is a Costa Rica woman identified by the last names of Cordero Carmona, said police, adding that she is 21.

Police said they also recovered some of the clothes that were taken from the parked vehicle.

Our reader's opinion
He's his neighbor's keeper,
according to water company


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Two days ago, I woke up to find I had no more water in my house. After waiting a few hours, I asked my Tica girlfriend to call AyA and ask what's up as my bills were up to date.

She was informed that one of my neighbors hadn't paid, so they shut off my water by mistake instead of theirs. She asked them to reconnect mine, and they replied "Well, can you go ask your neighbor to pay their bill?" What does my neighbor have to do with my water, we told them. They said "OK, fine, we will open a request to reconnect your water. It will be done before 6 p.m."

Many, many phone calls and 48 hours have passed, and I still have no water. I decided to try calling myself and after explaining the problem and on one attempt after telling the guy "I am not responsible for my neighbor, so get my water turned on now!" (talked to him in Spanish) he simply hung up on me.

My girlfriend is still trying, hopefully we get water back soon. I am positive there will be no compensation from them though, I'm even expecting them to try and add the disconnection and reconnection fees to my next bill.

Anyway the bottom line is, Costa Rica will continue to remain a third world country as long as they keep providing service such as this. I can only hope the free trade treaty brings in some new companies and put these monopolies out of business.
Keith Bussey

EDITOR'S NOTE; Mr. Bussey reports that after two-and-a-half days and dozens of telephone calls, the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados turned his water back on. There was no information about whether the neighbor paid the bill.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 5, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 219





Rock adn Roll Thanksgiving dinner
Azucar restaurant


An A.M. Costa Rica special report
Hostels are offering much more than just a bed these days
Story and photos by Elise Sonray
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Hostels: people crammed into cardboard bunk beds, shared showers clogged with mysterious matter and grungy backpackers who don't use them. This continues to be a common perception of hostels held by people around the globe. But this image is beginning to change, as are hostels worldwide.

Many hostels including some in San José are equipped with luxurious swimming pools, host live bands and even maintain private night clubs. Some feature king-sized beds, Xbox 360 video game systems, free pancake breakfasts and even poolside fire-jugglers. Almost all have free Internet. They do have their downsides.

Whether it's being robbed, finding ants in your toothbrush or hair in your bed, hostels still aren't the Ritz Carlton.

Yet it's the whole experience that makes guests want to stay and keep returning to hostels. Said one hostel goer from California, "If I wanted a bath and glass of champagne every night, I would stay at the Clarion."

Most people choose to stay at lower-cost hostels because of what they classify as the friendly atmosphere and easy-going environment. And almost all agree on one point: its a great way to meet people.

"I stayed in a hotel my first night in San José, and I knew there would be no more of that," said Coral Pendell of Sitka, Alaska. Miss Pendell and her friend Julia Gluth, both 20, said they prefer hostels over hotels because of the atmosphere and the ease of meeting new friends. "We've met people from all over the world, and the travel advice from fellow guests is better than any guide book," the young women said in the midst of a Halloween party at one hostel.

"When I went to Europe I stayed in hotels," said Beatriz Hernández Bermúdez, owner of Guady's Hostel near Parque la Sabana. "They just gave me the key and sent me to my room." Ms. Hernåndez said the service was far from friendly or helpful.

That's why she decided to open her own place providing a family atmosphere. “I want to help people with their questions and any problems they may face on their travels,” said Ms. Hernåndez.

María Fernanda García, owner of Galileo hostel, also Sabana, agreed. “I am like the mom, and I take care of all my kids here in the hostel,” she said.

Hostel goers say by staying in hostels you meet people from all over the world. Marie-Pierre Bélisle from Quebec, Canada, came by herself to Costa Rica. “I wanted to stay at a hostel to meet people and travel with them,” she said. The next day she sat in the hammock-strung lobby of Tranquilo Backpackers with her new friend Yaïr Levy from Belgium. “I've been here almost 2 months,” said Levy, an environmental scientist, “I prefer to stay in hostels not just for the price but the quality of the service and the people you meet.”

Hostel goers also say they get great travel advice and inside tips from fellow travelers.  Jake Barrett originally from San Fransisco, California, said his eyes were opened by staying at hostels in San José.

"I thought I was a traveler, but I come here and I met all these people who've been here 12 weeks, traveled all over, up through Mexico, El Salvador, all the way to San Diego and back to Europe." Barrett said listening to these people's stories and advice was better than reading countless numbers of guide books. "It just put me to shame," he said.

Barret, 40, is part of a growing number of middle-aged people and up who prefer hostels.

Hostels originated as a safe haven for traveling youth. Richard Schirrmann, a German schoolteacher, is credited with the invention of the youth hostel in 1909. According to infohostels.com, Schirrmann was traveling with a group of students and was forced to take shelter in a barn during a rain storm. Schirrman laid awake thinking about improvements for traveling youth, according to smart-travel-germany.com. Shortly after, he started the first youth hostel and the idea quickly spread.

Although the majority of San Jose's hostel goers are young people, most owners said they have guests ranging from high-school age to their late 50's or 60's. Guests are mainly from Europe and the United States, also Australia and South America. Some hostels, like Guady's, have rooms especially suited for families.  Similar to bed and breakfasts, many hostels are owned and operated by families whose members cook and do the chores for guests.
 
On the opposite end of the spectrum many hostels are known for their party life.
 
Halloween night reggaeton shook the dance floor over the pool, the disco ball spun and characters like Osama Bin Laden, Tinkerbell and Wilma Flinstone downed Jello shots and sipped Imperial beer. This is not an uncommon night at Hostel Pangea, said bartender Sebastián Urizar Rodríguez. “I like my job because of the beautiful girls, and I get to meet people from all over the world,” he said with a smile, adjusting his orange Home Depot cap, his costume for the night. 

Parties are not uncommon at many hostels although there is usually a line separating the “party” hostels from the more tranquil or family ones.

Whether it's a party atmosphere or a homey environment a visitor seeks, either can most likely be found in one of San José's many hostels. And according to hostel goers, a guest will most surely meet people from around the world, get great advice, and perhaps find a travel partner to share the adventures. And a visitor can almost always count on a friendly personable staff who is interested in helping. One night Roy Montero Mora, a receptionist at Toruma, stayed up the entire night drinking beer and comforting a distraught, teary guest with famly problems at home.

Hostel prices here range from $6 at Tranquilo Backpackers, for a mattress in the T.V. room, to $50 for two people sharing a queen-sized bed and private bathroom at Toruma Hostel. The average price for dorms/bunk bed rooms is about $8 to $10 and for a private room (usually with a shared bathroom) $20 to $28.

Here are descriptions and ratings of various hostels in the San José area. Each is rated on six categories, each with a possible 10 points.

The proximity to the downtown rates a high score in location. Safety is the perception of the security of the facility and its neighborhood and the presence of guards.

Character is an indicator of the unique quality and atmosphere. Friendliness is an assessment of the attitude of the staff and their willingness to help. Fun speaks for itself and relates to the activities provided at the hostel. Cleanliness is the result of an inspeciton of some of the rooms and the condition of the common areas.

backpackers
Corte Suprema building in background

Costa Rican Backpackers

www.costaricabackpackers.com
Location: downtown: 8.5
Safety: 4
Character: 9
Friendliness: 8
Fun: 9
Clean: 7

Bonus: Pool, restaurant, game room, laundry service (1 kilo for 1,000 colons, about $1.90), tour desk, shuttle

Outdoor pathways enveloped by tropical plants connect the dorms, restaurant, game room, and reading room, giving the place a large spread out feel. A pool and garden, which the owner proudly calls the "heart and soul of the place" provide a place to relax and meet new friends. The perfect building took 10 months to find said owner Vincent Garnier, originally from Paris, France.

Guests say it is easy to meet people here and they enjoy the evening movies and the restaurant. In the summer season there are poolside barbecues, jugglers with fire and live music gigs.
 
Complaints include “warmish,” sometimes cold showers and the amount of theft in the area. The owner himself admits crime in the area is going up. A robber mugged the reporter while she was obtaining information for this account in front of the hostel as the guard unknowingly watched.

Guest House
Vincent Garnier owns Guest House
and Backpackers

Guest House
www.costa-rica-guesthouse.com
Location: 8.5
Safety: 4
Character: 6
Friendliness: 8
Fun: 7
Clean: 7

Bonus: King-sized beds and many rooms with private balconies, free use of Costa Rica backpacker facilities across the street, laundry service
 
This hostel features private rooms with king-sized dark wood-framed beds and airy white covers. The hostel itself has a more upscale feeling. The shared bathrooms aren't especially clean however. The hostel is across from Costa Rica Backpackers and has the same owner. Guests may use all the facilities across the street for no extra charge. The theft problem goes for both.
 
Pangea
Pangea has a party reputation

Hostel Pangea
www.hostelpangea.com
Location: 9
Safety: 7
Character: 9
Friendliness: 6.5
Fun: 9.5
Clean: 8

Bonus: Pool, restaurant, bar, private night club, laundry service

From the outside it may not look like it, but Hostel Pangea has a cool atmosphere, a large bar/restaurant and private VIP club (guests and friends of the owner only). Unlike most hostels Pangea does charge for things like the billiard table, towels and also admission to parties at the club.

The rooms are average, smaller than many. Some guests prefer this though, saying it is “More intimate and easier to meet people,” in the smaller dorm rooms. Green murals cover the walls and there is music playing most of the day and into the night.

Raquel Salazar Caracas, manager of Pangea, said they mainly attract a younger clientèle.

Toruma
Toruma is in a converted mansion

Hostel Toruma
www.hostelpangea.com
Location: 9
Safety: 7
Character: 6
Friendliness: 7
Fun: 8.5
Clean: 8.5

Bonus: Converted mansion, pool, restaurant (in high season only), laundry service

Owned by the same Tico twin brothers as Pangea, this hostel is a converted mansion.

It is spacious, and includes a huge loft-lounge with 7 computers and T.V. A clear pool and sunny patio welcome guests just as they come in through the gate. Visitors won't find a restaurant or bar until high season though, which is considered here to be from Dec. 25 through August.

Toruma offers perhaps the most luxurious private rooms of all the hostels. It includes a room with a private bath, queen size bed and pull-out sofa. The price is comparable to that of many hotels in the area. In the four nights the reporter spent there, the showers had hot water three out of five times.

The 25 employees of Pangea and Toruma are fairly young and all Costa Rican.

Joseph Cubero Cabezas said he enjoys working at Toruma because of all the people he meets. He loves his job, and it's stress free, he added. It is not uncommon to see workers joining in the parties at Pangea after their shift.

Owners of Pangea and Toruma also own Arenal BackPackers in Arenal, La Fortuna and Monteverde BackPackers in Santa Elena, Monteverde.
Gallileo
Sign announces hostel inside


Galileo Hostel
Location: La Sabana: 6
Safety: 7.5
Character: 7.5
Friendliness: 8
Fun: 6
Clean: 6.5

This small hostel is owned and run by a friendly Columbian family. The house itself is two floors and has a small, slightly crowded feel. Like many of the hostels, it has a communal kitchen. During a visit the scent of marijuna was present, a good thing or bad thing depending on what a visitor seeks.

Gaudy's
Beatriz Hernández Bermúdez,
owner


Gaudy's Backpacker Hostel
backpacker.co.cr
Location: La Sabana: 6
Safety: 8
Character: 8
Friendliness: 9
Fun: 6
Clean: 7.5

Bonus: Free breakfasts, laundry service
 
Owned by a very friendly Columbian woman, Gaudy's is perhaps the most homey of the hostels here. The rooms have special touches like quilts and picture frames which make it feel almost more like a bed and breakfast than a hostel. There is an outdoor patio for drinking, dorm rooms, private rooms and one room fit perfectly for a couple with kids. The owner, Beatriz Hernåndez Bermúdez said her mission is to help her guests as much as she can and make them feel at home.

Mi Casa

Location is Sabana Norte

Mi Casa Hostel

www.micasahostel.com
Location: La Sabana: 4
Safety: 8
Character: 5
Friendliness: 5
Fun: 6
Clean: 9

Bonus: Laundry service ($5 to wash, $5 to dry)

On the north side of Parque Sabana, Mi Casa Hostel is pretty out of the way. If a visitor likes to jog however, the park is a perfect place. And there are bus stops nearby. Mi Casa feels extremely new and fairly large. It is clean and has a big back yard, pool table and a tour info area.  It has a more professional feel than many of the hostels and does not have the super-friendly atmosphere that many of the smaller operations boast.

Delux hostel
Clocks add international
touch
De'Luxe Hostel
Location: 8
Safety: 7
Character: 7.5
Friendliness: 8.5
Fun: 7
Clean: 7

Bonus: Large outdoor patio

A medium sized hostel, De'Luxe has a friendly atmosphere and fairly clean feel. Guests vary in age.There is an outdoor patio, tic-tac-toe boards on the lounge tables, a comfortable T.V. room, and a pool table downstairs. The workers are friendly and helpful.


Tranquilo Backpackers
Check-in time

Tranquilo Backpackers
tranquilobackpackers.com
Location: 8
Safety: 7
Character: 8
Friendliness: 7.5
Fun: 6.5
Clean: 4

Bonus: Lots of hammocks, pancake breakfasts, laundry service

Weed and hammocks is how a reporter remembers Tranquilo Backpackers. One receptionist greeted a visitor as he was rolling what looked like a blunt.  The place definitely has a relaxed atmosphere. The cool decorations and colorful hammocks outside and inside give the place some memorable character. Although the $6-a-night mattress in the TV room doesn't look especially clean, there is always a free pancake breakfast.
 
Hostel Bekuo
Colorful mural welcomes guests

Hostel Bekuo
hostelbekuo.com
Location: Los Yoses: 7.5
Safety: 9
Character: 6.5
Friendliness: 7.5
Fun: 7.5
Clean: 9

Bonus: Outdoor garden, Xbox 360, pool table, free breakfast
 
Bekuo has a clean, new feeling with large dorm rooms and bunk beds. The large living room includes a big screen T.V. and Xbox 360. There is a new pool table, communal kitchen and patio. Los Yoses is a calm neighborhood, and it's close to San Pedro, the college district, so there are good bars nearby.

Bekuo also features all-you-can-eat sushi nights for $5. During one visit guests were selling home made burritos for $2 each.
 
Casa Yoses
Distinctive sign marks this hostel

Casa Yoses Hostel
casayoses.com
Location: 7.5
Safety: 9
Character: 6.5
Friendliness: 7
Fun: 7
Clean: 7

Bonus: Free breakfast, pool table, big front yard and lots of lawn chairs, laundry service

Casa Yoses looks like a house you might see somewhere in California from the outside. It has a large front yard and a gated drive way. It smelled like weed. The staff is friendly and laid back. Its clean and like its neighbor Bekuo, it has a fairly new feel.

Guest Home Hostel
Windows are barred for security

Guest Home Hostel
hostelguesthomecr.com
Location: 6
Safety: 7.5
Character: 7
Friendliness: 8
Fun: 4
Clean: 7

Bonus: Use of washing machine

This hostel is perhaps the most basic, with a T.V. room, dorm rooms and a kitchen. The owner is a friendly Columbian woman who does the cooking and many of the chores herself. The hostel has the feeling of a very small operation. The Web site is misleading: The place is friendly but far from luxurious.

 
Kabata Hotel
Lobby also is television room.

Kabata Hostel
kabatahostel.com
Location: 8
Safety: 7
Character: 7
Friendliness: 8
Fun: 7
Clean: 7

Bonus: Owner also owns tour/adventure agency, laundry service

Kabata is owned by a young Tico couple with small daughter, and they actually live in the hostel. The hostel is two floors and on the smaller side. It is quieter than many, and guests vary in ages.
 
Owner Mauricio Odio Truque said he enjoys interacting with his guests, giving them advice and sometimes even taking them on tours of the country. Truque said he  traveled Costa Rica with his family when he was younger and wanted to share his knowledge with others. He has his own company called Outdoor Adventures. He says the benefits of his place are the small size and personal expertise.

If a traveler doesn't like cats this probably isn't the place because there is at least one running around.



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Colom appears to have won presidency in Guatemala voting
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
and staff reports

Center-left candidate Álvaro Colom appears to have won the presidency in Guatemala. Colom of Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza declared himself the victor Sunday night after seeing returns from more than 95 percent of the polling places, said the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre.

With ballots from 96.2 percent of the nation's polling stations counted Sunday night, Colom had 52.7 percent of the vote, to 47.3 percent for retired General Otto Pérez Molina of Partido Patriota. Colom and Pérez were the top two finishers in the first-round presidential election Sept. 9.
Pérez based his campaign on pledges to fight crime and combat drug trafficking. He was believed to be strongest in the capital city where crime is a daily reality. Colom's platform focused on poverty issues.

About 50 people died in election-related violence before September's vote, making it the deadliest political campaign since Guatemala's 36-year civil war ended in 1996. Gunmen in Guatemala City killed a Pérez aide last month. The retired general has linked the killing to his vow to crack down on drug trafficking.

Colom, a businessman, said late Sunday that the time had come to work for national unity, according to Prensa Libre.


Officials say 1 million are homeless due to floods in México
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Eight people have died and nearly one million are homeless in southern México because of the worst floods in 50 years.

The department of civil defense in Chiapas state reported finding seven bodies between Friday and Saturday.  The dead included an undocumented Honduran immigrant.

Flood waters cover more than three quarters of the neighboring state of Tabasco, where one man died last week.

Authorities in Tabasco reported looting of grocery stores and shopping centers on Saturday.
The governor of Tabasco state, Andres Granier, said he knows people are hungry, but he said being hungry does not justify looting.

President Felipe Calderón has ordered the military to assist with rescue efforts.  International relief agencies, including the Red Cross and UNICEF, are also providing assistance.

Police and rescue workers are trying to reach thousands of stranded flood victims. Health officials say they are concerned by the risk of water and mosquito-borne illnesses, particularly among children.

While the flood waters receded slightly Saturday in some areas, weather forecasters say more rain is possible.


Chávez leads rally supporting referendum that would give him more power
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez led a large rally Sunday in Caracas to build support for constitutional changes which would eliminate presidential term limits and further his socialist reforms.

Thousands of supporters wore red clothing and cheered Chávez as he called for "yes" votes in a Dec. 2 referendum.

In addition to the term limits, the altered Venezuelan
constitution would allow the president during a state of emergency to suspend media rights and to detain citizens without charges.

Venezuela's opposition, students, and the Roman Catholic church have condemned the plan to alter the constitution.

They accuse Chávez of attempting to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, Cuban leader Fidel Castro, by trying to stay in power forever through the new constitution.


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Kenyan, Paula Radcliffe take titles at NYC Marathon
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Martin Lel of Kenya has won the men's title at the New York City Marathon, while England's Paula Radcliffe captured the women's race as she competed in her first marathon in two years.

Lel went into his final kick about 1.5 kilometers from the finish line to edge past Morocco's Abderrahim Goumri in a time of 2:09:04. Goumri took second place, 12 seconds back, while Hendrick Ramala of South Africa was third at 2:11:25.

n the women's race, Radcliffe led from the start with Gete Wami of Ethiopia close behind. But the world
I record-holding Radcliffe pulled away with less than two kilometers left to finish in 2:23:09. Wami finished second, 23 seconds back, while two-time defending champion Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia was a distant third at 2:26:13.

It was Radcliffe's second New York City Marathon title, after winning in 2004. She has won all seven marathons she has completed, the only exception being the 2004 Olympic marathon she dropped out of.

There was a moment of silence before the men's marathon started for elite American runner Ryan Shay. He collapsed and died Saturday about nine kilometers into the U.S. men's marathon trials in Central Park. Autopsy results released Sunday were inconclusive.

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