Paula Radcliffe put on a one-woman show fit for Broadway to blitz her rivals in the New York marathon.
Radcliffe finished almost TWO MINUTES ahead of her nearest rival to become only the second woman to win the Big Apple spectacular three times.
Exactly 11 weeks after her disappointment at the Beijing Olympics, when she could only finish 23rd after a stress fracture hampered her preparations, a fit and healthy Radcliffe re-established herself as the world’s best over 26.2 miles.
She clocked 2hr 23.56sec as she crossed the Central Park finishing line.
Radcliffe, 34, even had time to pose for photographs with daughter Isla before Russian Ludmila Petrova came home in 02:25.43.
Among the first to congratulate Radcliffe on the podium was Norwegian legend Grete Waitz — a former Olympic silver medallist, who won the New York marathon nine times, the last 20 years ago.
Radcliffe, who pocketed £110,000 in fees and bonuses for her victory, said: “To win three times is very special. To be a third of the way to replicating what Grete did here is amazing. Grete was a huge inspiration to me.
“Why can I get it right every time in New York and not at the Olympics? It is frustrating.
“The Olympics only comes around every four years and you have to get it right on the day.
“Constantina Dita got it right and won but I wasn’t able to. Sometimes you have to deal with what life deals you.
“It was nice to run it differently this year and make it easier on my husband. The two previous finishes here were very close.”
This really was the Fairytale of New York as once again Radcliffe defied those who had written her off in Beijing.
The marathon world-record holder had come into the race as the defending champion, having won here a year ago after giving birth to Isla.
Back then, victory came after a sprint finish with Ethiopian Gete Wami.
If that was sensational, this was even better. Wami faded away out in the Bronx with more than six miles left, leaving Radcliffe to battle it out with 40-year-old Petrova, champion here eight years ago.
Then, with just over four miles to go, Radcliffe kicked and left Petrova standing.
Radcliffe insists she wants to continue running up to London 2012 for the chance of finally achieving her Olympic dream.
She has now won eight of the 10 marathons she has competed in — the only two missing being in Athens in 2004 and Beijing.
Bookies are already offering odds of 10-1 on her winning gold in four years’ time.
New Yorker Kara Goucher finished her debut marathon third in 02:25.53, the fastest time ever by an American woman.
Goucher, 30, who beat Radcliffe in last year’s Great North Run, was inspired by the Brit’s New York triumph in 2007.
She said: “I’d never seen anything like it.
“It was the most inspirational athletics performance I’d ever seen. I’m still in awe of her. And today she just hammered us.”
Glasgow’s Hailey Haining finished 12th.