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Women’s champ Baysa wins by just 1 second

Updated: November 9, 2012 6:19AM

It was a different picture than expected.

But the women’s race in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon ended Sunday with a near photo finish.

Ethiopian Atsede Baysa gave Ethiopia a sweep of the top spots by holding off Kenyan Rita Jeptoo by a stride to win by one second in 2 hours, 22 minutes, 3 seconds. Russian Liliya Shobukhova, who was bidding to become the first to win Chicago four straight times finished fourth (2:22:59).

“Yes, I knew [Jeptoo] was behind me,’’ said Baysa, who finished in her second fastest marathon.

In 2010, her other appearance in Chicago, she finished second, the same year she set her personal best (2:22:04) in winning at Paris for a second time.

This year she was the leader being chased.

“I was thinking], ‘Just keep her behind me,’ ‘’ said Baysa, who earned $100,000 for the victory.

She did that though it looked dicey at times in the final miles.

Jeptoo pushed repeatedly up to and even past Baysa at times near the end in the one of the closest finishes in marathon history.

“I ran my best since 2006 in Boston [a 2:23:38],’’ Jeptoo, 31, said. “Today I am happy because I think I prepare well. My body was good. I am happy to run my best time in Chicago.’’

As both women crossed the tape, Jeptoo raised her arms as though celebrating victory. But she said she was only celebrating her good time and race; she knew Baysa had won.

Kenyan Lucy Kabuu, 28, was third (2:22:41) and said she was happy at her place with limited prep time.

Prep time may have factored in Shobukhova’s performance.

“The difference was not enough time after the Olympics for me to prepare for this pace today,’’ Shobukhova said.

Around 30K, she had fallen well off the pace, but she had enough to pass the fifth and sixth place marathoners around 40K.

“Mentally I am disappointed that I was not running in top three, but I tried to run my times,’’ Shobukhova said. The 34-year-old saw beyond Sunday.

“My life is not over today,’’ she said. “I will have new victories in the future.’’

And she said she will be back in Chicago if invited.

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