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Marathoners Engage in Completely Justified Gluttony

Counter-clockwise from upper right: Paula Radcliffe, Meb Keflezghi, Deartu Tulu, Ryan Hall, Joe Bastianich, food.

The topic of food pops up often in conversations about running; many people start a jogging routine so they can keep eating how they like after their metabolism slows down. Marathoners burn way more calories than the average jogger; after the race, do they reward their commitment and dedication with grease and sugar? We asked a handful of the elite runners from yesterday's ING New York Marathon — and restaurateur Joe Bastianich, who also finished — about their post-race dining experience.

Meb Keflezghi, from San Diego, California, the 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist, won the race in a new personal best of 2:09:15, becoming the first American New York champion since 1982. He then ate beef tenderloin — his trashed leg muscles crave the protein and iron — at the Mandarin Oriental's official post-race banquet. Fried chicken and waffle potato fries from Chik-fil-A await when he gets back home, he says.

Derartu Tulu, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 10,000 meters, has a marathon personal best of 2:23:30. The 37-year-old mother of six had unfinished business in New York, hoping to improve on her third-place finish from 2005. And this year, she won in 2:28:52. Tulu is one of the two most famous people in Ethiopia (the other being Haille Gebrselassie, the marathon world record holder), so the Ethiopian-community leaders in New York had plans to throw her a party with over 100 guests feasting on traditional delicacies like wat, a thick meat and vegetable stew served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread. But the plans fell through — so she went to Starbucks and then the Mandarin banquet.

Paula Radcliffe, from Great Britain, the three-time ING New York City Marathon champion in 2004, 2007, and 2008; women's world record holder in the marathon at 2:15:25, finished in fourth place with a time of 2:29:27. Training year-round, Radcliffe covers up to 150 miles a week and follows a strict diet, excluding wheat, dairy, gluten, tomatoes, coffee, and grapes. But last night she ate a buttery steak, cooked rare, and had a few glasses of red wine and a fat slice of gluten-free chocolate cake at the Mandarin Oriental.

Ryan Hall, from Big Bear Lake, California, won the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon with a personal best of 2:06:17; he finished fourth, at 2:10:36. After races, the only thing he can force down for a couple of hours is a Cytomax recovery drink. Once his stomach settled, he made a trip to Magnolia for a box of cupcakes. Upon return to California, he'll stop by In-N-Out for the "animal style" burger.

Joe Bastianich: Under doctor's orders to slim down, the restaurateur trained for the 2008 marathon, lost 45 pounds, and decided to run it again. This year he recruited six employees from Becco to compete with him, including his executive chef, Bill Gallagher, who lost 30 pounds while training. Bastianich finished in an impressive 3:42:36. At Becco, Bastianich and crew gathered for baked rigatoni with eggplant and ricotta and grilled rib-eye steak with garlicky sautéed spinach and home-fried potatoes. He paired it with a "sticky, jammy, sweet red wine. And beer. I love to drink beer after a long run."

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Photo: Getty Images, iStockphoto