NEW YORK - If only he hadn't slowed to take a drink of water.
Meb Keflezighi expressed that regret Monday, a day after finishing second in the New York City Marathon.
The Olympic silver medalist from Mammoth Lakes, Calif., said that last gulp, about 2 miles before the finish, might have cost him the race.
"They have the drink there for a reason, so I took it," Keflezighi said. But "when you run and drink it does something to your body, to your stride."
South Africa's Hendrik Ramaala skipped the last water station - and won. Ramaala agreed that the finish might have boiled down to the water issue: "I took a gamble. ... Now everyone is going to do it, so it's not going to help me again."
Ramaala finished in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 28 seconds to lead the pack of 24,563 men who entered the world's largest marathon. Keflezighi lost by 25 seconds.
Paula Radcliffe beat Kenyan Susan Chepkemei in the tightest women's race in NYC Marathon history, crossing the line in 2:23:10. Chepkemei was four seconds back.
Despite his water lament, Keflezighi said he felt "great. ... Hendrik is a great athlete and it was a very competitive field."
Keflezighi said he feels like he showed the world that his showing at the Athens Games was not just luck.
"I am the real deal," he said. He noted that no other American has finished higher than third in 11 years.