Team Kenya had a field day on Sunday (October 13) at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, taking the top four spots in the men’s division and the top two in the women’s. And that’s not even the most impressive part.
Men’s winner Dennis Kimetto and runner-up Emmanuel Mutai both broke the course record set last year by Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede, and as they sped through the Windy City streets, leading a pack of 12 that cruised through the first half in 1:01:52, it looked as if they might challenge Wilson Kipsang’s 2:03:23 world record.
Kimetto, who finished in 2:03:45, ran with Mutai for most of the race and didn’t overtake his countryman until the final 1.2 miles, according to LetsRun.com. In addition to smashing Kebede’s record (2:04:38) by nearly a minute, Kimetto posted the fourth-fastest time ever clocked on a legal marathon course. Alas, he wasn’t able topple Kipsang’s record, set September 29 in Berlin.
“I am happy because I set a course record,” Kimetto said, according to LetsRun.com. “The conditions were very good.”
Mutai crossed in 2:03:52 and thus earned the distinction of being the only runner to have broken 2:04 on a non-wind-aided course and not claimed first place for his efforts.
While their fellow Kenyans Sammy Kitwara and Micah Kogo failed to beat Kebede’s 2012 Chi-Town mark, they did log personal bests. Kitwara lowered his from 2:07:22 to 2:05:16 to finish third, while Kogo, who came in second at this year’s Boston Marathon, cut his from 2:10:27 to 2:06:56 to finish fourth.
Rounding out the top five was American Dathan Ritzenhein, who kept up with the fast early pace but suffered from cramping late in the race. He finished in 2:09:45—two minutes behind the time that earned him ninth place in Chicago last year.
Relative to Kimetto, women’s winner Rita Jeptoo enjoyed an easy road to victory, finishing in 2:19:57 and beating Jemima Sumgong by 53 seconds. She smiled and waved as she came down the final stretch, perhaps thinking about how differently things turned out last year, when she battled winner Atsede Baysa to the very end and lost by a second.
“I feel good, I’m happy,” said Jeptoo, according to Reuters. “This year I trained very, very good because I was training with a new coach. I was not 100-percent thinking I am going to win, but because of training I believe I ran good.” Third place went to Russia’s Maria Konovalova, who finished in 2:20:48.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg